Looking Behind and Looking Ahead

dwight johnsto photo
Dwight Johnston, Vice President and Chief Economist for the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues.

In this article we’ll recap the events and news over the past month that mattered most to the economy and markets, your credit union, and your members. Then we’ll look ahead at the key upcoming events you need to know.

Behind us - Economic data continues to exceed expectations

  • Nonfarm Payrolls grow by 235,000, almost the same as January. This is a start to the year. Year-over-year hourly wage gain at 2.8%, also a good start.
  • Auto sales steady at very good level for early in year.
  • Median home prices rise on year-over-year basis, but most area prices are the same or slightly lower from the peak price in 2016.
  • It is early in the home “season,” but inventories exceptionally low. Could limit new mortgage business for credit unions.
  • Rates in March fall to lowest levels this year but then jump on changing expectations about Fed action.
  • Consumer Confidence remains exceptionally high, and year-over-year Retail Sales jump by 5.6%.

Ahead for you–Big economic releases ahead and another Fed meeting

  • March 15–Big day. FOMC statement and Janet Yellen press conference. While rate increase is expected, there will be interest in what the Fed forecasts going forward. Retail Sales and the Consumer Price Index will be released prior to the FOMC announcement.
  • March 16–Debt ceiling expires. Treasury can fund for several more weeks, but this will be at test if Democrats want to play the games Republicans did in the past few years.
  • March 16–Housing Starts for February
  • March 23–New Home Sales for February
  • March 23–Janet Yellen speaks. While the Fed meeting and Yellen press conference will have been just the week prior, traders will want to hear if Yellen has had any second thoughts.
  • April 4–Auto sales for March. The first two month sales were good but seasonally low. March will give us a better idea of the demand for autos.
  • April 7–The jobs report. After two surprisingly strong months, traders will be focused on whether or not those represented a new trend higher.
  • TBA–The first round of the French election will take place on April 23. The markets could begin to react to any surprising poll results before that date.
  • On any date–A Trump tweet bomb. Watching the Twitter feed has become a new “thing” on Wall Street. Traders never know when they are coming or what the target will be, but they have become important.

Article by Dwight Johnston, Vice President and Chief Economist for the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues.