1. Mortgage rates
rose back above 4% this week to 4.12% for the 30-year fixed rate, up from last week's historic low of 3.94% and reaching the highest rate in five weeks.
2. Loaded export containers
leaving the L.A. Port in September increased by 26.6% compared to a year earlier, which was the largest annual gain for any month since early 2010. On a year-to-date basis, export volume in 2011 is 13.6% ahead of last year, and at the highest-ever level for January-September exports in L.A. Port history. Loaded inbound containers (imports) in September were essentially unchanged compared to last year.
3. Weekly rail traffic
continued showing gains, with carload rail traffic for the week ending October up by 2.1% compared to the same week last year, and intermodal rail volume up by 2.4%. This was the third straight week of increases for both carload and intermodal shipments over the comparable weeks in 2010. As a leading indicator of future economic activity, the ongoing gains in weekly rail shipments will translate into higher output and production in the coming months.
4. Retail sales in September
increased 7.9% above the same month last year, and by almost 4% after adjusting for inflation. Motor vehicle sales were especially strong in September, with gains of 3.6% versus August, and 8.5% versus September 2010. September sales in 15 out of 16 individual categories were above their year-ago levels, and only the category "electronic and appliance stores" had flat September sales with no gain from last year.
Commentary from Scott Grannis
: "Today's retail sales number is one more in a growing list of statistics that have thrown buckets of cold water on the notion that the U.S. economy is sick and about to slip into another recession."
And from Brian Wesbury and Bob Stein: "Today’s report on retail sales killed any remaining chance that the U.S. is in recession. The data speak for themselves."