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Sense on Cents Economic Review: Red Light, Green Light

Posted by Larry Doyle on May 28, 2009 11:09 AM |

We had some very interesting economic reports released this morning. The data and its interpretation provide serious “grist for the mill.” On that note, let’s sharpen the stone and get to work.

1. Durable Goods: rose 1.9% versus a consensus expectation of a rise of .5%. Much of the increase was due to strong orders in the automotive and defense industries. Green light, green shoot, call it what you want. This report is much stronger than expected, so get back in there and BUY, BUY, BUY. Actually, hold on . . . 

Do we expect to see growth in the automotive industry going forward? This industry is and will continue to be downsized. Do we think Barack is looking to grow our defense budget? Most assuredly not.

As much as market analysts, media mavens, and government officials are spinning this report in a very positive fashion, let’s dig deeper.

Last month’s Durable Goods Orders were revised lower from an initial reading of -.8% to -2.1%. Red light!! Additionally, given the volatile nature of orders in the transportation sector, economists look at Durable Goods excluding transportation. How did that do?

Wow!! Another green light. Durable Goods excluding transportation orders rose .8% versus an expectation of -.3%. Much stronger than expected. How about revisions to last month’s numbers? Uh-oh!! Last month this report reflected a decline of -.6% and this was revised to a -2.7%!!! Red light!!

So for those who think we’re making progress on this front, put it in the context of “take three steps back and two steps forward!!”

Let’s move right along.

2. Initial Jobless Claims: reported as a figure of 623k versus a consensus expectation of 628k. Less claims means an improving tone to the jobs market, right? Well, once again we’re playing the green light, red light game. Last week’s claims were revised from 631k to 636k, a worse point of departure. We’ll call this a push.

3. New Home Sales: against a consensus expectation of 360k units, this report came in weaker than expected at 352k. Red light. Additionally, the prior month’s report was revised lower from 356k units to 351k units. Another red light!!

4. Mortgage Delinquencies Data: released by the Mortgage Bankers Association rose to a record level of 9.12%. I had written a few weeks back on the importance of this data (The Most Critical Economic Statistic).

I am not surprised by this report. This data is the precursor to an increase in foreclosures and further pressure on our housing market. Red light.

5. Goldman Sachs recommends investors buy 10yr U.S. Treasury notes (hat tip TD) at a 3.7%. Is Goldman being an honest broker here or fronting for Uncle Sam? Yellow light.

LD






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