The U.S. stock market finished the week mixed as quarterly earnings reports continue to roll out. Interest rates were unchanged as the 10-year treasury yield was held steady at 2.56%. Meanwhile the spread between the 10-year treasury yield and the 2-year treasury yield widened by 2 basis points to 0.19%. The price of gold fell 1.24% to $1,277.90 an ounce while the U.S. Dollar Index (DXY) increased from 96.97 to 97.40 amid better than expected retail sales data. The price of crude oil rose a slight 0.34% to $64.00 a barrel.
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This Week’s Economic Highlights
- Industrial production fell by 0.1% in March after rising 0.1% in February and falling 0.3% in January. That said, industrial production has been weaker than normal for the first quarter of 2019.
- The U.S. trade deficit in goods and services shrank by 3.4% in February to $49.4 billion. More specifically, exports rose 1.1% to $209.7 billion while imports only rose 0.2% to $259.1 billion.
- Initial unemployment claims continue to trend downwards as they drop by 5,000 to 192,000 for the week ending April 13th. The less volatile four-week average of initial claims fell a slightly greater 6,000 to 201,250. Continuing unemployment claims, which lag initial claims by a week, fell by 63,000 to 1.65 million. Both initial and continuing unemployment claims are historically very low.
- Retail sales recognized its largest one month increase in a year and a half as it rose 1.6% in March. Driving retail sales higher was a 3.5% increase in the sales of automobiles and a 10% increase in the sales price of gasoline. Excluding gas and automobiles, retail sales still increased by a strong 0.9%.
- U.S. housing starts fell by 0.35% to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.14 million units in March, its lowest level in nearly two years. U.S. building permits, a more forward-looking indication of housing starts, dropped by a larger 1.7% to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.27 million units.
“We must be careful in praising or condemning because the future may hold surprises for us.”
– Neil Postman