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Weekly economic review & outlook Softer end to 2019 for consumer data

January 21, 2020

You Need to Know

Week in review

Retail sales up modestly, but still not much inflation

Retail sales rose by 0.3 percent in December to wrap a softer fourth quarter for spending. CPI inflation remained tepid through year-end.

Outsized gain in housing starts

Home construction surged to an expansion high in December, although difficult seasonal adjustment in the winter months may have played a role.

Week Ahead

Forecasts

Existing home sales should climb

Strong underlying demand factors should lead arise in December existing home sales – with pending sales already reported higher.

Weekly jobless claims likely up a tad after recent fall

Weekly jobless claims have plummeted in recent weeks, in response to a brief period of higher claims due to the late Thanksgiving holiday; we expect them to edge higher to the average level of the past several months.

Retail sales rose by a modest 0.3 percent for December as spending was held down by a decline in auto sales. Excluding autos, total retail expenditures increased by a hefty 0.7 percent from November, the strongest monthly gain for this measure since July. There were also signs of solid consumer activity across most spending categories as core retail sales (excluding autos, building supplies and gasoline) increased by 0.4 percent for the month.

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