Two of eight indexes on our world watch list have posted gains through Monday, March 19, 2018. The top performer this year is Hong Kong's Hang Seng with a gain of 5.33%. In second is our own S&P 500 with a gain of 1.47%. Shanghai's SSE Composite is in third with a loss of 0.84%.
It's time again for our weekly gasoline update based on data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The price of Regular and Premium were up four cents each from last week. According to GasBuddy.com, Hawaii has the highest average price for Regular at $3.42 and Santa Barbara, CA is the most expensive city, averaging $3.53. Mississippi has the cheapest at $2.27. The WTIC end of day spot price closed at 61.36, a 1.9% decrease from this time last week.
Over the long haul the two series offer a compelling study of trends in residential real estate. Here is an overlay of the two series since the 1959 inception of the Starts data and the Permits data, which began being tracked a year later. The monthly data points are preserved as faint dots. The trends are illustrated with 6-month moving averages of data divided by the Census Bureau's mid-month population estimates.
Rising trade tensions contributed to this week's market decline. The S&P 500 closed Friday above Thursday's close, but fell 1.24% from last week. The index is up 2.08% YTD and is 4.2% below its record close. Volume was high today, ending 38% above its 50 day moving average.
The 20th century Baby Boom was one of the most powerful demographic events in the history of the United States. We've created a series of charts to show seven age cohorts of the employed population from 1948 to the present. What we see is essentially the "Boomer Bulge" in employment across time. Those born between 1946 and 1964 continue to grow the employment of the two oldest cohorts. It will be interesting to see how long those two trends continue.
Millennials make up the largest percentage of our population today, yet have seen some of the lowest labor force participation growth and highest unemployment out of all age groups since the turn of the century. This has larger implications when coupled with slow wage growth, high home prices, and mounting student debt.
In July of 2015, CNN Money featured an article with the optimistic and intriguing title "More American teens are getting jobs. That's good for everyone." After reading the article, we revised one of our monthly charts on Labor Force Participation to include the age 16-19 cohort -- one we elsewhere combine with the 20-24 year-olds. We've updated this article to include the latest employment data.
We've updated our monthly workforce analysis to include last week's Employment Report for February. The unemployment rate remained at 4.1%, and the number of new nonfarm jobs (a relatively volatile number subject to extensive revisions) came in at 313K.
The latest JOLTS report (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary), with data through January, is now available. The time frame is quite limited compared to the main BLS data series in the monthly employment report, many of which go back to 1948, and the enormously popular Nonfarm Employment (PAYEMS) series goes back to 1939, while the BLS began tracking JOLTS in December 2000.
Today's report on Industrial Production for February shows a 1.1% increase month-over-month, which was much better than the Investing.com consensus of 0.3%. The year-over-year change is 4.35%, up from last month's YoY increase.