Wednesday, May 6, 2015

News notes: Latest Economic Data Looks Weak

Those forecasting a weak start to the year 2015 look like they will be right based on the news coming in so far. First quarter GDP came in way below forecast. The trade deficit came in way above forecast (which will likely revise GDP even lower). Today we get some more news of weakness.


CNBC - First Quarter Productivity Fell 1.9 Percent 

"U.S. nonfarm productivity fell in the first quarter as harsh winter weather weighed on output, pushing labor-related production costs to rise at their quickest pace in a year.
Productivity declined at a 1.9 percent annual rate after dropping at a revised 2.1 pace in the fourth quarter, the Labor Department said on Wednesday. That was the first back-to-back fall in productivity since 2006.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast productivity, which measures hourly output per worker, dropping at a 1.8 percent rate after falling at a previously reported 2.2 percent rate in the last three months of 2014."
"U.S. private employers added 169,000 jobs last month, the fewest since January 2014 and far below economists' expectations, a report by a payrolls processor showed on Wednesday.
Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast the ADP National Employment Report would show a gain of 200,000 jobs.
March's private payrolls were revised down to an increase of 175,000 jobs from the previously reported 189,000."
"U.S. franchise job gains hit the lowest levels last month since July 2014, due in large part to a drop in restaurant employment, according to the ADP National Franchise Report."
The Atlanta Fed "GDP Now" forecast model was widely heralded for being the only Fed model to accurately predict the poor first quarter GDP results. That model is currently indicating another weak quarter so far for the second quarter.

Janet Yellen - Equities getting a little too high?
All this adds fuel to the fire for those who say the US Fed will be forced to postpone a rate increase yet again. The Fed is saying the early 2015 data may be temporary and still thinks growth will pick up the rest of the year. We'll see.

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