Friday, April 10, 2015

BofA: "Farewell winter blues"

by Bill McBride on 4/10/2015 10:30:00 AM

We recently saw another spate of recession calls (my response was R-E-L-A-X). There are several reasons for the recent economic weakness including seasonal factors, poor weather, the West Cost port slowdown, the stronger dollar and lower oil prices (the negative impacts are more obvious, but overall lower prices will be a positive).  It looks like consumer spending in March was solid.

Excerpts from a research note from BofA: "Farewell winter blues"

There is finally good news to report on the US consumer. Spending on BAC credit and debit cards was up sharply in March, following a string of weak reports. Our measure of core retail sales - ex-autos and gasoline sales - increased 0.9% mom on a seasonally adjusted basis in March. This is a notable improvement from the past three months of essentially no growth. If we include gasoline station sales, the swing is even more dramatic given the significant adjustment in gasoline prices. ...

As always when analyzing economic data, we have to be careful not to overreact to just one report. The gain in March follows several months of weak data, making the comparisons more favorable. Moreover, the early Easter holiday might have sent people shopping in late March. The weather is also an important factor; ... the regions with the harshest winter weather showed the largest declines in February and strongest gains in March.

We are hopeful that the gain in March is the beginning of a healthier trajectory for consumer spending. As we have been arguing, all signs point to a solid consumer backdrop. ... Households have repaired their balance sheets and animal spirits have improved with consumer confidence trending higher. We are therefore holding to our core view that consumer spending will accelerate into 2Q, providing much-need support to GDP tracking.