Retail sales came in better than expected for December (even as some cohorts were revised lower for prior data), perhaps relieving some worries about the stability of the key pillar holding up the US economy at a time when business investment is subdued and C-suite confidence remains depressed.
On the headline, retail sales rose 0.3% last month, inline with estimates.
Less autos, retail sales rose a much better-than-forecast 0.7% (consensus was looking for a 0.5% gain). The control group posted a 0.5% gain.
Bloomberg’s Cameron Crise found a “milestone”. “Thanks to the base effects of a weak 2018, the YoY reading on control (6.3%) is now the highest since March 2006!”, he exclaimed. “That provides ongoing support for risky assets for the time being”.
Also supportive for the economic narrative is Philly Fed, which beat handily, printing 17.0 versus an expected 3.8. The range of estimates was -1.0 to 8.0.
Prices paid, new orders, employment and shipments all rose, and in response to a new survey question querying respondents on demand, nearly two-thirds said they plan to increase production in the first quarter. To wit:
In the Special Questions this month, the firms were asked to characterize demand for their products over the past few months and to forecast their production for the first quarter of the year. Most firms (44 percent) reported an increase in underlying demand, but 31 percent characterized underlying demand as decreasing in recent months. Over 62 percent of the firms anticipate increasing production in the first quarter, while 33 percent expect decreases. Among the firms expecting an increase in production, 25 percent indicated that this would be accomplished with additional workers. But most indicated higher production would be accomplished without additional hiring: Thirty-three percent would increase the hours of existing workers, while 36 percent indicated production could be increased with higher productivity of existing workers.
The six-month outlook moved higher, as did the medium-term outlook for capex.
Treasurys dipped and the dollar moved higher after Thursday’s econ which also included a better-than-expected claims number.
All in all, this looks like decent news for the MAGA economy. Remember: In an election year, every little print helps. Especially for an impeached president who is essentially running on a platform defined by tacky jingoism and an imaginary economic renaissance.