Anyone looking for some clear evidence from Bernanke on the Fedâ€™s next steps in Jackson Hole was left disappointed ahead of the long weekend. He again pledged to provide additional support as needed, without mentioning any new specific bond buying program. The central banker sees continued economic weakness and called the state of the labor market a â€œgrave concern.â€ A good deal of his highly anticipated speech was defending the effectiveness of his past actions. However, he stopped short in â€œtipping his hand,â€ saying that of the tools currently available to policy makers, â€œwe should not rule out further use of such policies if economic conditions warrant.â€ He indicated that the Fed â€œwill provide additional policy accommodations as needed.â€ He went on to state that additional bond buying and forward rate guidance â€œhave been and can continue to be effectiveâ€ in providing economic support. All of this would suggest that he is leaning in the way of action, without actually saying so.
Below are some other highlights of the week:
- USD: The S&Pâ€™s Case-Shiller report shows average home prices up on a year over year basis for the 20-city index. At +0.5% itâ€™s a concrete sign that prices are beginning to stabilize.
- USD: The CB consumer confidence fell to 60.6 from 65.4 in August, the lowest reading in ten-months. This was mostly on the back of business and job prospects declining.
- USD: The Richmond Manufacturing Index saw economic activity shrinking again this month, though at a slower pace (-9 from -17). The service sector recovered a bit -6 from -11, while the employment weakened, down six points to -5. Over the last two weeks bot the empire and Philly fed recorded similar results and raising concerns about a widespread US manufacturing slowdown.
- USD: US GDP growth grew at +1.7% rate in Q2, up slightly from the prior +1.5% reading, though the overall pace suggests growth will remain sluggish ahead of the Presidential election. Itâ€™s growing enough to hold US unemployment rate steady and nothing more than that.
- USD: The NAR said that its seasonally adjusted index for pending sales of existing homes increased +2.4% in July from a month earlier to a reading of 101.7. This is the highest print in two years when buyers took full advantage of federal tax credits. The index was up +12.4% year-over-years.
- CAD: Canadaâ€™s current a/c deficit widened (seasonally adjusted -$16.02b) more than expected in Q2 to the highest level in two-years as energy exports to the US fell and imports grew, resulting in the goods balance slipping back into a shortfall after three consecutive surpluses. Exports declined by -$3.6b to +$117.15b while imports grew by +$2.3b to -$120.76b.
- USD: The number of US workers filing applications for jobless benefits has stabilized in recent week (last week claims were unchanged at a seasonally adjusted +374k), suggesting that the pace of layoffs has fallen since spring. However, job creation is likely to remain tepid at best. Ben continues to closely monitor the US job situation as they eye further stimulus.
- USD: US personal spending rose the most in five months (+0.4% in July), a sign that â€œwary consumers are beginning to come out of their shell.â€ Consumer spending counts for two-thirds of total demand in the US economy. Personal income rose +0.3% in July. Income is now up for the eight consecutive months. The same monthâ€™s savings rate fell to +4.2% from +4.3% (the highest recorded level in a year).
- CAD: The Canadian economy grew faster than expected in Q2 (+1.8% vs. +1.6% annualized or +0.5% quarterly) as businesses replenished inventories and invested in plants and equipment by the most in a year. Net exports were a bigger drag on growth as imports grew 8-times faster than exports.
- USD: Chicago PMI suffered a slide in their order backlogs (lowest level in three-years) during this month, sending the business barometer down to 53.0 from 53.7 in July. Supplier deliveries also contracted, while production and new orders both advanced on the month.
- USD: Factory orders rose by +2.8% in July, handily beating consensus +1.9%. Ex-transportation and orders rose only +0.7% and that after a downwardly revised -2.2% decline in June.