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Economic Update 08/24/15

CHINA DATA, CRUDE PRICES DRIVE MAJOR SELLOFF

Fierce headwinds hit Wall Street last week. A report showed that Chinese factory activity hit a 6-year low in July, raising serious doubts about whether that country’s economy was still maintaining 7% annual growth. (The Shanghai Composite lost 4.3% Friday and 11% for the week.) Friday, WTI crude dipped under $40 before settling at $40.45 on the NYMEX; oil is on an 8-week losing streak.) Under such pressure, U.S. stocks had their poorest week of the year: in five days, the Dow fell 5.82% to 16,459.75, the Nasdaq 6.78% to 4,706.04 and the S&P 500 5.77% to 1,970.89. The CBOE VIX soared 40% last week to a Friday close of 26.81.

EXISTING HOME SALES AT AN 8-YEAR PEAK

New National Association of Realtors data showed 2.0% more resales in July and a yearly gain of 10.3%, with the annualized sales pace at its hottest since February 2007. July also saw single-family housing starts rise 12.8%. Total starts were up just 0.2%, however, and the Census Bureau measured a 16.3% dip for building permits.

LATEST CPI SHOWS MINIMAL INFLATION PRESSURE

In July, both the headline and core Consumer Price Index rose only 0.1%. That was half the gain projected by analysts in a Briefing.com consensus forecast. In June, consumer prices were up 0.3% with core CPI rising 0.2%.

JULY FED MINUTES: UNCERTAINTY ABOUT A RATE HIKE

Minutes from the July Federal Open Market Committee meeting released last week showed no apparent consensus about raising short-term interest rates, with some Federal Reserve officials leaning against an increase because of muted U.S. inflation and slowing overseas economies and others wishing to proceed. Wall Street was left a bit less certain about the long-assumed September rate move.

THIS WEEK: Stateside, nothing major is scheduled for Monday. Tuesday, the Conference Board’s August consumer confidence index comes out, along with the June S&P/Case-Shiller home price index, July new home sales data and earnings from Best Buy, DSW, Toll Bros., and Valspar. A report on July durable goods orders arrives Wednesday, plus earnings from Abercrombie & Fitch, Chico’s, Express, Tilly’s, and Williams-Sonoma. The second federal government estimate of Q2 GDP appears Thursday, plus NAR’s July pending home sales index, a new initial claims report and earnings from Aeropostale, Autodesk, Burlington Stores, Dollar General, Fred’s, GameStop, J.M. Smucker, Smith & Wesson, and Tiffany. Friday brings the final August University of Michigan consumer sentiment index, July personal spending figures and earnings results from Regis Corp. and Big Lots.

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