Real-time data show economy's rebound slowing but still going
The New York Fed's index of real-time data reversed again in the last week, with data continuing to show a slow but recovering economy that is having trouble returning to its pre-pandemic strength.
What happened: The index was unexpectedly weaker given solid data on U.S. retail sales and the massive outperformance of the Conference Board's consumer confidence index.
- The index had ticked up to -3.84% last week, and the latest decline for the week of Sept. 26 comes "in spite of increases in retail sales, steel production, and consumer confidence," the index's authors say.
- The index was at -4.5% after its previous update on Thursday.
What it is: "The Weekly Economic Index is an index of 10 daily and weekly indicators of real economic activity, scaled to align with the four-quarter GDP growth rate," per the New York Fed.
The big picture: Other real-time data backs the stall out in the New York Fed's data.
- TD Securities analysts note that the daily Homebase employment series now shows a small decline in not-seasonally-adjusted private payrolls in September and points to a decline in jobs for October.
- The OpenTable restaurant series "has been volatile, but it appears to be trending up slowly," they note.
- The analysts expect a positive jobs number in the September jobs report, but only 400,000 jobs added, which would be less than half the consensus expectation of 850,000, according to FactSet.
A similar measure of real-time data from Jefferies rose in the last week, but remains below its September peak, as the month-over-month growth rate "has averaged at just 1.5% over the past month, the slowest pace since the beginning of the recovery."
- Though analysts caution the September slowdown is likely based on seasonal factors, "i.e., not yet a concern."