PERSONAL SPENDING BARELY IMPROVES
Consumer spending increased by only a seasonally adjusted 0.1% in August, while consumer incomes rose 0.2%. Those gains precisely matched the projections of economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal. Factoring in inflation, household spending actually retreated 0.1% during August. Hurricane Harvey may be partly to blame for these numbers.
ROUNDING UP REAL ESTATE INDICATORS
Census Bureau data shows new home buying down 3.4% in August; this dip comes on the heels of a (revised) 5.5% fall in July. Pending home sales, as measured by a National Association of Realtors index, slipped 2.6% in August after retreating 0.8% a month earlier. The 12-month gain for the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index improved 0.2% to 5.8% in the July edition (released last week).
CONSUMER OUTLOOK WEATHERS STORMS
The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index and the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index both declined for September, but not drastically. The university’s gauge fell 1.7 points to a reading of 95.1, right where analysts polled by MarketWatch thought it would land; that left it 4.3 points above where it was in September 2016. At a mark of 119.8, the CB index was just 0.6 points lower than its August reading.
WALL STREET WRAPS UP A GOOD WEEK & MONTH
The three major indices all advanced last week. Taking the lead, the Nasdaq Composite posted a 5-day gain of 1.07% on the way to a Friday close of 6,495.96. In the same period, the Dow Jones Industrial Average improved 0.25% to 22,405.09; the S&P 500, 0.68% to 2,519.36. At the close on September 29, the Nasdaq had added 0.94% month-over-month; the Dow, 1.90%; the S&P, 1.73%; the Russell 2000, an impressive 5.47%. The CBOE VIX ended the month at just 9.51.