News & Events

Economic Advisor: June 13, 2018
June 13, 2018


 

Consumer credit saw a small uptick, while wholesale inventories grew, and layoffs fell slightly.

Consumer Credit

Consumer borrowing grew 2.9 percent in April to hit $3.882 trillion, according to last week’s report from the Federal Reserve. April’s credit gains marked the smallest increase in seven months.

Growth in consumer credit was balanced between the two main categories: revolving debt, such as credit cards, and non-revolving debt, such as student and car loans. Revolving debt increased 2.6 percent in April to hit $1.03 trillion for the month. Non-revolving debt grew 3 percent to hit $2.85 trillion.

The real story here is that revolving debt saw a gain after suffering its biggest drop since 2012 in March, which posted a 1.3 percent decline. Revolving debt has seen weak performance since November 2017, so the increase was welcome.

Wholesale Inventories

Total inventories for merchant wholesalers grew to $630.2 billion at the end of April, representing a 0.1 percent gain over March, according to last week’s report from the Census Bureau. Compared to the same period last year, inventories were up 5.8 percent from April 2017 level.

Wholesale inventories are important to monitor because they indicated anticipated retail activity. When wholesalers expand inventories, they are anticipating more demand from retailers. That’s a good sign, because consumer spending drives 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.

Meanwhile, wholesale sales for April hit $493.3 billion, which was 0.8 percent up from March. This put April’s inventories-to-sales ratio at 1.28. For comparison, April 2017’s ratio was 1.3.

Jobless Claims

First-time claims for unemployment benefits filed by the newly unemployed during the week ending June 2 ticked down to 222,000, a dip of 1,000 claims over the prior week’s total of 223,000, according to last week’s report from the Employment and Training Administration. 

The four-week moving average, which is considered a more stable measure of jobless claims, grew to 225,500, a gain of 2,750 claims from the preceding week’s average of 222,750 claims. 

This latest report marked the 170th straight week that initial claims have come in below the 300,000-claim level, which economists consider an indicator of a growing job market. The Administration added that it continues to experience hurricane-related reporting difficulties in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

This week, we can expect:

  • Tuesday — Consumer Price Index for May from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; Federal budget for May from the Treasury Department.
  • Wednesday — Producer Price Index for May from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Thursday — Initial jobless claims for last week from the Employment and Training Administration; import prices for May from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; retail sales for May, and business inventories for April from the Census Bureau.
  • Friday — Consumer sentiment for June from the University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers; industrial production and capacity utilization for May from the Federal Reserve.

 

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