There was little monthly data this week. Retail sales came in better than expected, and the inventory to sales ratio sizzled. Consumer confidence meanwhile slipped a bit. Turning to the high-frequency weekly indicators ...
The ICSC reported that same store retail sales were up 1.8% YoY and 1.4% WoW for the first week of February. This is still negative YoY in "real" terms.
Similarly, ShopperTrak reported sales for the week ending February 6 were up 1.3% YoY and up 4.0% WoW. For the month of January, they reported sales up 2.0% YoYst year.
Railfax weekly data showed cyclical, intermodal, and total traffic up both WoW and YoY. Baseline traffic now up vs. a year ago. The largest part of the cyclical improvement appears to be autos. Since the first of the year, auto loads are up 54% from last year and down 38.7% from two years ago.
Gasoline demand remained weak, proving that the remedy for high gas prices was, high gas prices. Oil finished the week in the $72-$73 range.
Finally, two items this past week show that you’re reading the right blog.
First, the BLS reported that initial jobless claims declined to 440,000 last week. This was the first reading under 450,000 that was not distorted by seasonal factors, and is thus probably the best news on the unemployment front in about 2 years. As I predicted a month ago, Doomers would ballyhoo a rise back to about 480,000 once the over-generous seasonal adjustment ended. And they obliged. As one said last week:
Weekly unemployment claims are up yet again, as is the 4-week moving average of claims.... The 4-week moving average of claims is now clearly headed up. Moreover, if the next two weeks look anything like the past two weeks, that 4-week average will soon be at 480,000.Oops!
Secondly, as of February 10, 2010, the Daily Treasury Statement showed that withholding taxes paid for the month were running more than 10% higher than the same date last year: $63.6B vs. $57.8B a year ago.
You're reading the right blog.