Weekly Economic Update: November 19, 2018

The Markets (as of market close November 12, 2018)

Volatility best describes last week in the market, with all the major benchmark indexes losing value. Apparently, investors may be having trepidations about ongoing business growth and fear that the economy is slowing. Declining oil prices have also contributed to diminishing stock index values. Even optimistic rhetoric between the United States and China wasn’t enough to quell investors’ concerns. Following last week’s slide, the major indexes are moving closer to their 2017 year-end values. In fact, the small caps of the Russell 2000 have given back all of the gains garnered during the year and are now below last year’s closing mark. Even the Nasdaq, which has led the way for much of the year reaching double digit year-to-date gains, is now only roughly 5.0% ahead of its 2017 year-end value. Long-term bond prices rose as the yield on 10-year Treasuries fell 12 basis points last week.


  • October, the first month of fiscal year 2019, saw the government deficit reach $100.5 billion (59% higher than last October). Receipts totaled $252.7 billion. The government spent $353.2 billion. Of receipts, individual income taxes accounted for $129 billion, while corporate income taxes contributed $8 billion. The largest government expenditures in October were for Social Security ($84 billion), defense ($69 billion), and Medicare ($53 billion).
  • Prices consumers paid for goods and services rose 0.3% in October, after inching up 0.1% in September. Over the last 12 months, the Consumer Price Index has risen 2.5%. An increase in gas prices was responsible for over one-third of the October price increase. The CPI less food and energy rose 0.2% for the month, and is up 2.1% over the last 12 months.
  • A spike in prices for gas, building materials, and autos pushed retail sales up 0.8% in October over the prior month and 4.6% higher than October 2017. Sales, excluding the aforementioned items (otherwise referred to as “control group sales”), rose a more moderate 0.3% for the month. Restaurant sales actually fell 0.2%, following monthly declines in September and August. Heading into shopping season, this report gives an indication that sales will be healthy, if not robust, in November and December.
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices for imports increased 0.5% in October following a 0.2% increase in September. This is the highest monthly increase in import prices since a 0.9% jump in May. Over the last 12 months ended in October, import prices have increased 3.5%. Expanding fuel prices (up 3.3%) were a major contributor to the import price increase. Excluding fuel, import prices edged up 0.2% for the month. Export prices advanced 0.4% after recording no change in September. The October advance was the largest monthly increase since the index rose 0.7% in May. For the 12 months ended in October, export prices are up 3.1%.
  • Industrial production edged up 0.1% in October, as a gain for manufacturing outweighed decreases in mining (-0.3%) and utilities (-0.5%). Overall, the index for industrial production is 4.1% ahead of October 2017.


Thanksgiving week is typically a slow one for market activity. However, there are a few reports out this week that bear watching. October’s housing starts and existing home sales reports are out this week. The housing sector has been slow and is unlikely to pick up much steam as the fall season blends into winter.

From all of us at BWFA have a great Thanksgiving holiday!