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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Misc: Richmond Fed shows slower expansion, ATA Trucking index increases in March

by Calculated Risk on 4/26/2011 02:15:00 PM

• From the Richmond Fed: Manufacturing Growth Moderates in April

In April, the seasonally adjusted composite index of manufacturing activity — our broadest measure of manufacturing — fell ten points to 10 from March's reading of 20.
Hiring conditions at Fifth District plants changed little in April from their March pace. The manufacturing employment index slipped two points to end at 14 and the average workweek measure eased three points to 7. In contrast, wage growth added three points to 22.
Also the Richmond Fed service survey showed improvement: Service Sector Activity Strengthens: Retail Revenues Rise; Services Firms Make Gains (This is new and not closely followed, but this showing a strong pickup in the service sector with little increase in prices).

• From ATA Trucking: ATA Truck Tonnage Index Rose 1.7 Percent in March
The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 1.7 percent in March after falling a revised 2.7 percent in February 2011.
Compared with March 2010, SA tonnage climbed 6.3 percent, which was higher than February’s 4.4 percent year-over-year gain, but below the 7.6 percent jump in January. For the first quarter of 2011, tonnage increased 3.8 percent from the previous quarter and 6.1 percent from the first quarter 2010.

“Despite my concern that higher energy costs are going to begin cutting into consumer spending, tonnage levels were pretty good in March and the first quarter of the year,” said ATA Chief Economist and Vice President Bob Costello. Looking ahead, Costello said, “While I still think the industry will continue to grow and recover from the weak freight environment we've seen in recent years, the rapid spike in fuel prices will slow that growth.”
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 68 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods.
• From CNBC: Consumer Confidence Index rises in April
The Conference Board said Tuesday the index rose to 65.4 from a revised 63.8 in March.
Expectations were for an increase to 64.4.

On House Prices:
Case Shiller: Home Prices near post-bubble lows in February
Real House Prices and Price-to-Rent
House Price Graphs