Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Quick Notes for the Day - August 18

PPI Falls in July - The Labor Department reported that the Producer Prices Index (PPI) fell 0.9% in July after seasonal adjustments primarily on the fall in food and energy prices. This should start to quiet those fears of inflation creeping back into the economy and allow the Fed to leave rates low for quite a while. The core PPI (excludes food and energy prices) fell 0.1%. Over the past year, the PPI has dropped a record 6.8% since records were kept in 1947. In contrast, the core PPI has risen 2.6% over the past year.

Housing Starts Flat - The Commerce Department reported July's housing starts to be virtually flat versus the prior month with a small increase in new construction of single-family homes being offset by a large decline in multifamily units. Starts fell 1% in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 581,000 from an upwardly revised 587,000 rate in June. Building permits for single-family homes rose 5.8% in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 458,000, the fourth increase in a row and a strong sign that building activity may have finally stopped plunging.

Oil Gains - Oil futures crept back above $67 a barrel following economic data on the PPI, housing starts, and earnings reports from Home Depot and Target that topped expectations. As the market rallied, the dollar fell which put upward pressure on the commodities as a whole (gold, oil, metals, etc.).

International Air Travel Falls - International premium air traffic fell 21.6% in June from a year ago as the decline in air-traffic demand continued to moderate according to the International Air Transport Association. In May, international premium traffic, which includes business and first-class ticketing, fell 23.6%. The number of people flying internationally was virtually flat from May to June, after adjusting for seasonal fluctuations, the trade group said.

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