April consumer and producer prices; March job openings, et al

regular monthly reports that were released this week included the the April Consumer Price Index, the April Producer Price Index, and the April Import-Export Price Index from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) for March, also from the BLS, and the Wholesale Trade, Sales and Inventories report for March from the Census Bureau…that report estimated that the seasonally adjusted value of wholesale sales was at $497.9 billion billion, up 0.3 percent (+/-0.5%)* from February, after February sales were revised from $495.9 billion to $496.2 billion, and that the adjusted value of wholesale inventories at the end of March was at $627.4 billion, also up 0.3% from February, after the value of wholesale inventories at the end of January was revised from $625.6 billion to $625.3 billion…in addition, the Consumer Credit Report for March was released by the Fed this week, and it showed that overall consumer credit, a measure of non-real estate debt, expanded by a seasonally adjusted $11.7 billion, or at a 3.6% annual rate, as non-revolving credit expanded at a 6.0% annual rate to $2,847.9 billion while revolving credit outstanding shrunk at a 3.0% rate to $1,027.0 billion, in the largest decrease in revolving credit since 2012…

the major privately issued report released this week was the Mortgage Monitor for March from Black Knight Financial Services….that report indicated that 3.73% of US home mortgages were delinquent in March, down from 4.30% in February but up from 3.62% in March a year ago, and that 0.63% of all mortgages were in the foreclosure process at the end of the month, down from 0.65% of mortgages in February and down from the 0.88% of mortgages that were in foreclosure in March a year ago..

Consumer Prices Rose 0.2% in April on Higher Food, Shelter and Energy Costs

the consumer prices increased by 0.2% in April, as higher prices for gasoline, food and shelter more than offset lower prices for automobiles, many other goods and some services…the Consumer Price Index Summary from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that the seasonally adjusted price index for urban consumers rose 0.2% in April, after it had fallen by 0.1% in March but after it had risen by 0.2% in February, 0.5% in January, 0.1% in December, 0.4% in November, 0.1% in October, 0.5% in September, 0.4% in August, and 0.1% last July…the unadjusted CPI-U, which was set with prices of the 1982 to 1984 period equal to 100, rose from 249.554 in March to 250.546 in April, which left it statistically 2.463% higher than the 244.524 index reading of last March, which is reported as a 2.5% year over year increase…with higher priced energy being a major reason for the increase in the overall index, seasonally adjusted core prices, which exclude food and energy, rose by 0.1% for the month, with the unadjusted core index rising from 256.610 257.025, which put it 2.139% ahead of its year ago reading of 251.642, which is reported as a 2.1% increase…

the volatile seasonally adjusted energy price index increased by 1.4% in April, after it had fallen by 2.8% in March, but after it had risen by 0.1% in February, 3.0% in January, fallen by 0.2% in December, risen by 3.2% in November and by 2.0% in October, and thus is now 7.9% higher than in April a year ago…prices for energy commodities were 3.0% higher in April, while the index for energy services fell by 0.5%, after falling 0.2% in March….the increase in the energy commodity index was driven by a 3.0% increase in the retail price of gasoline, the largest component, while the price of fuel oil rose 2.7%, whereas prices for other fuels, including propane, kerosene and firewood, fell by an average of 0.3%…as a result, the energy commodities index is now 13.7% above its year ago levels, with gasoline prices averaging 13.4% higher than they were a year ago…within energy services, the index for utility (piped) gas service fell 0.4% after falling by 1.2% in March, which left utility gas priced just 1.0% higher than it was a year ago, while the electricity price index was 0.6% lower, after being unchanged in March…the energy services price index is now only 1.2% higher than last April, as electricity prices have also increased by 1.2% over that period…

the seasonally adjusted food price index rose 0.3% in April, after rising 0.1% in March, being unchanged in February, rising 0.2% in January, 0.2% in December, being unchanged in October and November, rising 0.1% in September, 0.1% in August, 0.2% in July, being unchanged in June, rising 0.2% in May, and 0.2% last April, as the index for food purchased for use at home was 0.3% higher in April, the largest increase since March 2017, while prices for food bought to eat away from home were 0.2% higher, as prices at fast food outlets rose 0.1% and prices at full service restaurants rose 0.3%, while food prices at elementary and secondary schools were unchanged…

in the food at home categories, the price index for cereals and bakery products decreased by 0.2%, as prices for bread fell 1.3% and prices for cookies fell 2.4%…the price index for the meats, poultry, fish, and eggs group was up 0.7% after rising 0.8% in March as egg prices rose 7.1% and the beef and veal index was 1.3% higher, while at the same time the index for dairy products was 0.4% higher on a 0.4% increase in the price index for milk…in addition, the fruits and vegetables index was 1.0% higher on a 1.1% increase in the price index for fresh fruits, a 0.6% increase in the index for fresh vegetables and 4.5% jump in canned fruit prices….on the other hand, the beverages index was 0.6% lower, as coffee prices fell 1.3% and noncarbonated juices and drink prices were priced 0.5% lower…lastly, the index for the ‘other foods at home’ category was unchanged, as prices for butter and margarine rose 2.0% and while prices for salt and other seasonings and spices fell 2.3%….

among food at home line items, only prices for eggs, which have risen 23.3% since last April, have seen price increase greater than 10% over the past year, while lettuce prices, down 14.0% over the past year, are the only food item that has fallen in price by more than 10%…the itemized list for price changes in over 100 separate food items is included at the beginning of Table 2, which gives us a line item breakdown for prices of more than 200 CPI items overall

among the seasonally adjusted core components of the CPI, which rose by 0.1% in April after rising by 0.2% in March, 0.2% in February, 0.3% in January, 0.3% in December, 0.1% in November, 0.2% in October, 0.1% in September, 0.2% in August and by 0.1% in each of the prior 4 months, the composite of all goods less food and energy goods fell by 0.1%, while the more heavily weighted composite for all services less energy services was 0.2% higher….among the goods components, which will be used by the Bureau of Economic Analysis to adjust April retail sales for inflation in national accounts data, the index for household furnishings and supplies rose 0.6% on a 1.1% increase in the index for living room, kitchen, and dining room furniture and a 9.6% increase in prices for laundry equipment…the apparel price index was 0.3% higher on a 4.5% increase in prices for women’s outerwear and a 3.0% increase in the index for girls’ apparel….on the other hand, prices for transportation commodities other than fuel were 0.9% lower, as prices for new cars fell 0.5%, prices for used cars were down 1.6%, and tire prices fell 0.7%…at the same time, prices for medical care commodities were 0.2% lower on a 0.4% decrease in non-prescription drug prices, while the recreational commodities index was 0.3% lower on a 2.0% drop the prices for televisions….in addition, the education and communication commodities index was 0.2% lower, on 0.8% decreases in the indexes for college textbooks and for telephone hardware, calculators, and other consumer information items…lastly, a separate price index for alcoholic beverages was up 0.3%, while the price index for ‘other goods’ was up 0.6% on a 1.4% increase in cigarette prices and a 0.9% increase in the index for miscellaneous personal goods..

within core services, which rose by 0.2%, the price index for shelter rose 0.3% on a 0.4% increase in rents and a 0.3% increase in homeowner’s equivalent rent, while costs for lodging away from home at hotels and motels rose 0.8%, the sub-index for water, sewers and trash collection rose 0.4%, and other household operation costs were on average 0.1% higher….at the same time, the index for medical care services was up 0.2%, as professional services rose 0.2% and hospital services were also priced 0.2% higher…on the other hand, the transportation services index was 0.4% lower on a 2.7% decrease in airline fares, while the recreation services index also fell 0.4% as cable and satellite television service fell 0.5%, as did club memberships for shopping clubs, fraternal, and other organizations, and participant sports…meanwhile, the index for education and communication services was unchanged, as postage was up 0.5% while internet and electronic information services fell 0.7%…lastly, the index for other personal services was up 1.0% as the index for tax return preparation and other accounting fees rose 7.9%…among core line items, prices for televisions, which are now 15.6% cheaper than a year ago, and the index for audio equipment, which is now 18.4% lower than last April, have seen prices drop by more than 10% over the past year, while nothing has seen prices rise by a double digit magnitude over that span…

Producer Prices Up 0.1% in April, as Lower Wholesale Foods partially offset Higher Transportation Services

the seasonally adjusted Producer Price Index (PPI) for final demand rose 0.1% in April, as prices for finished wholesale goods averaged no change, while margins of final services providers increased by 0.1%…that followed a March report that indicated the PPI was 0.3% higher, with prices for both finished goods and final demand for services up 0.3%, and a February report that indicated the PPI was 0.2% higher, with prices for finished wholesale goods down 0.1%, while margins of final services providers increased by 0.3%….on an unadjusted basis, producer prices are now 2.6% higher than a year ago, with the core producer price index, which excludes food, energy and trade services, 2.5% higher for the year, down from the year over year figures of 3.0% for the PPI and 2.8% for core that were indicated in March….

as noted, the price index for final demand for goods, aka ‘finished goods’, was unchanged in April, after being up 0.3% in March, down 0.1% in February, up 0.4% in January, and rising a revised 0.1% in December, and 0.8% in November…the price index for wholesale energy was up 0.1% in April after falling 2.1% in March, 0.5% in February but rising 3.4% in January, while the price index for wholesale foods fell 1.1%, and the index for final demand for core wholesale goods (ex food and energy) was 0.3% higher…driving the wholesale food price index lower were a 17.8% decrease in prices for fresh and dry vegetables, and a 22.9% decrease in wholesale prices for fresh eggs, partially reversing higher prices for both that we saw last month…the wholesale energy price index, meanwhile, inched up as 4.7% higher wholesale prices for home heating oil and a 4.0% increase in wholesale LP gas prices were partially offset by a 0.5% lower residential natural gas and electricity prices and a 0.4% decrease in the wholesale price of gasoline….among wholesale core goods, prices for cigarettes rose 3.2% while the wholesale price indexes for both commercial and residential furniture rose 0.7%…

at the same time, the index for final demand for services rose 0.1%, after being rising 0.3% in February and March and a revised 0.5% in January, as the April index for final demand for trade services rose 0.2%, the index for final demand for transportation and warehousing services rose 0.6%, while the index for final demand for services less trade, transportation, and warehousing services was 0.1% lower….among trade services, seasonally adjusted margins for automobile and parts retailers rose 1.4% and margins for machinery, equipment, parts, and supplies wholesalers rose 1.6%… among transportation and warehousing services, margins for air transportation of passengers rose 1.3%…in the core final demand for services index, the index for traveler accommodation services fell 3.2% while the index for bundled wired telecommunications access services fell 1.3%..

this report also showed the price index for intermediate processed goods was 0.5% higher in April, after falling 0.3% in March, but rising 0.7% in both January and February, and by a revised 0.3% in December….the price index for intermediate energy goods rose 1.3%, as prices for liquefied petroleum gas rose 4.0% and prices for natural gas sold to electric utilities rose 5.4%, while prices for intermediate processed foods and feeds rose 0.3% as the index for processed fruits and vegetables rose 0.8%…meanwhile, the core price index for processed goods for intermediate demand less food and energy was 0.3% higher on a 3.0% increase in the index for steel mill products and a 3.0% increase in prices for metal containers….prices for intermediate processed goods are now 4.7% higher than in March a year ago, now the 17th consecutive year over year increase, after 16 months of negative year over year comparisons, as intermediate goods prices fell every month from July 2015 through March 2016….

meanwhile, the price index for intermediate unprocessed goods rose 0.9% in April, after falling 4.8% in March, rising 2.8% in February, and a revised 1.1% in January and 1.3% in December….that was as the price index for crude energy goods rose 3.8% as crude oil prices rose 7.2%, while at the same time the index for unprocessed foodstuffs and feedstuffs fell 2.1%, as prices for slaughter hogs fell 18.7% and prices for slaughter steers and heifers fell 6.3%…on the other hand,  the index for core raw materials other than food and energy materials rose 0.7%, as prices for iron ore rose 7.6% and prices for iron and steel scrap rose 5.2%…this raw materials index is now up by 3.2% from a year ago, in contrast to the year over year increase of 12.8% that we saw last April…

lastly, the price index for services for intermediate demand rose 0.3% in April, after rising 0.3% in March and 0.5% in February, but after January’s increase was revised to unchanged….the index for trade services for intermediate demand was up 0.9%, as margins for metals, minerals, and ores wholesalers rose 10.0% and margins for intermediate food wholesalers rose 1.2%…the index for transportation and warehousing services for intermediate demand rose 0.5%, as the intermediate index for transportation of passengers (partial) rose 1.3%…meanwhile, the core price index for services less trade, transportation, and warehousing for intermediate demand was 0.2% higher, as the index for securities brokerage, dealing, and investment advice services rose 1.2% while the index for television advertising time sales rose 3.8%….over the 12 months ended in April, the year over year price index for services for intermediate demand, which has never turned negative on an annual basis, is now 3.1% higher than it was a year ago… 

Job Openings at a Record High in March; Job Quitting Rises, Hiring and Layoffs Fall

the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report for March from the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that seasonally adjusted job openings increased by 472,000 to a record 6,550,000 in March, after February job openings were revised up 22,000 from the originally reported 6,052,000…March’s jobs openings were also up 16.8% from the 5,607,000 job openings reported in March a year ago, as the job opening ratio expressed as a percentage of the employed was rose to 4.2% in March, up from the 3.9% rate in February and the 3.7% rate of March a year ago…(details on job openings by industry and region can be viewed in Table 1)…like most BLS releases, the press release for this report is easy to understand and also refers us to the associated table for the data cited, which are linked at the end of the release…

the JOLTS release also reports on labor turnover, which consists of hires and job separations, which in turn is further divided into layoffs and discharges, those who quit, and ‘other separations’, which includes retirements and deaths….in March, seasonally adjusted new hires totaled 5,425,000, down by 86,000 from the revised 5,511,000 who were hired or rehired in February, as the hiring rate as a percentage of all employed remained unchanged at 3.7% in March, which was up from the 3.6% hiring rate in March a year earlier (details of hiring by sector since November are in table 2)….meanwhile, total separations rose by 118,000 to 5,291,000 in March, as the separations rate as a percentage of the employed rose from 3.5% to 3.6%, which was also up from 3.5% a year ago (see table 3)…subtracting the 5,291,000 total separations from the total hires of 5,425,000 would imply an increase of 134,000 jobs in March, very much in line with the revised payroll job increase of 135,000 for March reported in the April establishment survey last week

breaking down the seasonally adjusted job separations, the BLS found that 3,344,000 of us voluntarily quit our jobs in March, up from the revised 3,208,000 who quit their jobs in February, while the quits rate, widely watched as an indicator of worker confidence, rose 0.1% to 2.3% of total employment, and it was also up from 2.2% a year earlier (see details in table 4)….in addition to those who quit, another 1,564,000 were either laid off, fired or otherwise discharged in March, down by 56,000 from the revised 1,620,000 who were discharged in February, as the discharges rate remained unchanged at 1.1% of all those who were employed during the month, same as a year ago…meanwhile, other separations, which includes retirements and deaths, were at 382,000 in March, up from 346,000 in February, for an ‘other separations rate’ of 0.3%, up from 0.2% in February and in March of last year….both seasonally adjusted and unadjusted details by industry and by region on hires and job separations, and on job quits and discharges can be accessed using the links to tables at the bottom of the press release…   


(the above is the synopsis that accompanied my regular sunday morning links emailing, which in turn was mostly selected from my weekly blog post on the global glass onion…if you’d be interested in receiving my weekly emailing of selected links, most from the aforementioned GGO posts, contact me…)   

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