August 15, 2011 / 7:40 PM / in 6 years

IFR Preview-Major US economic data for release Aug. 16

WHAT: Commerce Department Housing Starts, July
WHEN: Tuesday 0830 EDT (1230 GMT)
FORECASTS (annual rate)    Reuters   IFR       Previous
Housing Starts (units)     600,000   590,000   629,000
Building Permits (units)   605,000   600,000   617,000
IFR COMMENTARY: "Housing starts and building permits will
likely consolidate their gains from recent months, with
readings of 590k and 600k, respectively, for July. That would
be down from the 629k and 617k seen in June, but still a bit
stronger than recent trends in both series. The underlying
trend in multi-unit structures remains strong, though will
likely come down a bit after surging in both series. Starts
should see a small retreat in single-unit structures after
June's 39k jump to 453k.
 The pace of new home sales remains much too low to support
significant increases in single-unit construction. The
inventory of new homes was down almost a quarter in June from a
year earlier, however, which provides a glimmer of hope. While
the much larger supply of existing homes seems stagnant and
drives the overall housing market, new and existing homes
aren't completely perfect substitutes, so dwindling new home
inventory is a slightly positive sign."
WHAT: Labor Department Import and Export Prices, July
WHEN: Tuesday 0830 EDT (1230 GMT)
FORECASTS (pct)   Reuters   IFR    Previous
Import Prices     -O.1      -0.7   -0.5
IFR COMMENTARY: "July import prices should see a 0.7% decline,
a second straight decline to follow a 0.5% fall in June. Again
petroleum should lead the way down with a third straight drop,
and slightly steeper than the preceding two, which did not
appear to fully capture the move in oil off its high.
 Non-petroleum import prices should fall by 0.1%, a smaller
fall than in June's -0.2% outcome because of a more neutral
contribution from natural gas. The ex fuels index should see a
second straight 0.1% decline, with the restraining influences
which in June produced the first decline in this series since
July 2010 still in place.
 Yr/yr import prices should slip to 12.8% from 13.6%, but
the 5.0% pace both ex petroleum and ex fuels will be up from
4.9% and 4.8%, respectively, in June, as even weaker year ago
data drops out."
WHAT: Federal Reserve Industrial Production, July
WHEN: Tuesday 0915 EDT (1315 GMT)
FORECASTS (pct)         Reuters   IFR     Previous
Industrial production   +0.5      +0.2    +0.2
Capacity Use Rate       76.9      76.9    76.7
IFR COMMENTARY: "We see industrial production edging up just
0.2% in July, with a miniscule 0.1% tick up in manufacturing
output aided by strong utilities in a hotter-than-normal
 The slight increase in factory production is in line with
much flatter readings in sectoral surveys as well as a
relatively small increase in aggregate hours worked according
to the July employment report. Hours were soft in the mining
subsector, while July's weather was more of a deviation from
the norm than was June's, implying strong utility output.
If correct, and assuming no significant revisions to prior
months, that would bring the capacity utilization rate up from
76.7% to 76.9%, the strongest reading only since March. After a
more-or-less steady climb from 67.3% back in June 2009,
utilization has plateaued in 2011, having also started the year
with a 76.9% reading. While having closed much of the ground
between the recession low and historical average of about 80%,
it's not an encouraging sign that the sector's growth appears
to have petered out at this point."
 For more Reuters consensus forecasts for U.S. indicators,
double-click on [ECI/US]
 -- by Theodore Littleton and David Sloan of IFR Markets, a
unit of Thomson Reuters.

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