The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Housing Market Index (HMI) is a gauge of builder opinion on the relative level of current and future single-family home sales. It is a diffusion index, which means that a reading above 50 indicates a favorable outlook on home sales; below 50 indicates a negative outlook. The latest reading of 68, up 4 from last month's number, came in above the Investing.com forecast of 64.
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 down two cents each from last week. According to GasBuddy.com, Hawaii has the highest average price for Regular at $3.07 and Santa Barbara, CA is the most expensive city, averaging $3.20. Arkansas has the cheapest at $2.19. The WTIC end of day spot price closed at 51.87, a 1.8% increase from this time last week.
All eight indexes on our world watch list have posted gains for 2017 through October 16. The top performer thus far is Hong Kong's Hang Seng with a gain of 30.42%, followed by India's BSE SENSEX at 22.56%. In third is our own S&P 500 with 14.24%.
The Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers (CPI-U) released Friday puts the year-over-year inflation rate at 2.23%. It is below the 3.76% average since the end of the Second World War and above its 10-year moving average, now at 1.75%.
Here is a table showing the annualized change in Headline and Core CPI, not seasonally adjusted, for each of the past six months. Also included are the eight components of Headline CPI and a separate entry for Energy, which is a collection of sub-indexes in Housing and Transportation. We can make some inferences about how inflation is impacting our personal expenses depending on our relative exposure to the individual components.
We have announced our Venerated Voices™ awards for commentaries published in Q3 2017. Rankings were issued in three categories: The Top 25 Venerated Voices™ by Firm, The Top 25 Venerated Voices™ by Author and The Top 10 Venerated Voices™ by Commentary.
This morning we got the latest Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The diffusion index for General Business Conditions at 30.2 was an increase of 5.8 from the previous month's 24.4. The Investing.com forecast was for a reading of 20.7.
The index closed with a daily gain of 0.09% and a week-over-week gain of 0.15%. The index is up 14.0% YTD.
Note: With today's release of September's Retail Sales and Consumer Price Index, we've updated this commentary to include the latest Real Retail Sales. Month-over-month nominal sales in September increased by 1.6% (1.56% to two decimals). Real Retail Sales, calculated with the seasonally adjusted Consumer Price Index, increased by 1.0. The chart gives us a close look at the monthly data points in this series since the end of the last recession in mid-2009. The linear regression helps us identify variance from the trend.
Let's do some analysis of the Consumer Price Index, the best known measure of inflation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) divides all expenditures into eight categories and assigns a relative size to each. The pie chart illustrates the components of the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers, the CPI-U.