Retail sales enjoyed a considerable jump, and consumer prices also saw healthy gains. Meanwhile, layoffs tumbled.
Retail Sales Growth
After falling 0.3 percent in August, retail sales enjoyed their largest surge in two years. Retail Sales grew to 1.6 percent in September to hit $483.9 billion for the month, the Census Bureau reported last week. Compared to last year, this was 4.4 percent higher than September 2016’s sales.
The major source of September’s strong showing was gas stations, posting a 5.8 percent sales increase. Motor vehicle and parts dealers grew 3.6 percent. Other strong performers were building material and garden supply stores, which saw a 2.1 percent gain. Grocery stores increased by 1 percent. Food services and drinking establishments also enjoyed a 0.8 percent increase.
There was a concern by some economists that if consumers were spending so much on gasoline, in particular, it might stifle other sectors of retail sales. This did not materialize, and consumers used modest gains in wages to carry on buying, Global Data Retail Managing Director Neil Saunders noted in an interview with the Associated Press.
Consumer Price Index
Consumer prices were up in September, with the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers rising 0.5 percent for the month. Reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the last 12 months, the index has increased 2.2 percent.
In line with retail sales, a central contributor to the increase was the gasoline index, which shot up 13.1 percent during the month. This accounted for roughly three-quarters of the all items increase. The index for all items less food and energy are known as core inflation because it is not subject to those more volatile price categories grew 0.1 percent during September.
Initial Jobless Claims
First-time claims for unemployment benefits filed by the newly unemployed during the week ending October 7, dropped to 243,000, a loss of 15,000 claims from the prior weeks total of 258,000, according to last weeks report from the Employment and Training Administration.
That said, the Administration continued to caution that Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria continued to impact jobless claims data.
The four-week moving average usually considered a more stable measure of jobless claims fell to 257,500, a drop of 9,500 claims from the preceding weeks average of 267,000 claims. Like the weekly figure, the hurricanes skewed these numbers, too.
In any case, this marked the 136th straight week that initial claims have come in below the 300,000-claim level, which economists consider an indicator of a growing job market.
This week, we can expect:
- Tuesday — Industrial production and capacity utilization for September from the Federal Reserve; import prices for September from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Wednesday — Housing starts and building permits for September from the Census Bureau.
- Thursday — Initial jobless claims for last week from the Employment and Training Administration; leading economic indicators for September from The Conference Board.
- Friday — Existing home sales for September from the National Association of Realtors.