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Data: New York Fed; Chart: Axios Visuals

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."

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Dec 21, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Republicans take aim at the Fed

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Republicans began their latest attack on the Fed over the weekend, seeking to rein in the central bank's ability to recreate the slate of lending programs it rolled out in March, when it announced an open-ended commitment to move into corporate bonds and keep credit flowing.

What happened: Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and a group of Republican senators had proposed curbing the central bank’s lending powers to prevent new programs from being created that provide direct lending to large and medium-sized companies and the purchase of bonds from corporations and municipalities with just approval from the Treasury.

60 mins ago - World

Scoop: Iran preparing to enrich weapons-grade uranium, Israel warns U.S.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi holds a press conference. Photo: Presidency of Iran handout via Getty

Israel has shared intelligence over the past two weeks with the U.S. and several European allies suggesting that Iran is taking technical steps to prepare to enrich uranium to 90% purity — the level needed to produce a nuclear weapon, two U.S. sources briefed on the issue tell me.

Why it matters: Enriching to 90% would bring Iran closer than ever to the nuclear threshold. The Israeli warnings come as nuclear talks resume in Vienna, with Iran returning to the negotiating table on Monday after a five-month hiatus.

Biden: Fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns"

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Monday said that the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, is "a cause for concern, not a cause for panic."

Driving the news: Biden said later this week the administration will be releasing a strategy on how "we're going to fight COVID this winter. Not with shutdowns or lockdowns, but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and more."