Weekly Economic Update: May 14, 2018

The Markets (as of market close May 11, 2018)

Boosted by higher oil shares and rebounding tech stocks, the major benchmark indexes advanced markedly for the first time in several weeks. Gains were enough to push each of the indexes into the black year-to-date, led by the Nasdaq and the Russell 2000.  Investors also may have taken comfort in the presumption that inflation isn’t heading skyward based on the modest increase in the Consumer Price Index. Soft prices may preclude, at least temporarily, the Federal Reserve from increasing interest rates.


  • The Consumer Price Index increased in April after slipping in March. Over the last 12 months, the CPI has risen 2.5%.
  • Producer prices moved very little in April, up a scant bit over March, when prices jumped 0.3% from a rise in the prices producers got for services – prices for goods were unchanged in April.
  • The number of job openings increased by nearly 500,000 in March over February. Hires dropped slightly while total separations increased marginally. Of note, the gap between job openings and hires is 1.125 million, indicating that employers are having a hard time filling positions.
  • The federal government enjoyed the largest April budgetary surplus on record, bolstered by large individual tax deposits.
  • U.S. import prices increased in April following a slight decline in March.
  • In the week ended May 5, initial claims for unemployment insurance were unchanged from the previous week’s level.


If the recent purchasing managers’ survey responses are any indication, this week’s Federal Reserve report on industrial production should be encouraging. The latest figures on new residential construction for April are also out this week. Building permits and housing starts were strong in March, but bad weather throughout the country slowed housing completions. April’s report should show a more favorable rate of new home completions.