Small business owners aren’t overly optimistic, as the NFIB optimism index was little changed in September, edging up .2 points to 96.1, while an increasing number of business owners expect sales to decline. According to the NFIB, “Small business optimism continues to be stagnant, which is consistent with the expected economic growth of about 2.5 percent. The percent of owners citing the difficulty of finding qualified workers as their Most Important Business Problem increased and is now third on the list behind taxes and regulations. This is the highest reading since 2007 and suggests that employers will continue to face wage pressure in order to attract and keep good employees”.
Retail sales barely edged up in September, rising .1% after being flat in August, as consumers purchased new cars but little else. Auto sales posted a strong 1.7% rise, hitting the highest level since 2005.
Inflation slipped again last month on another big decline in gas prices. The consumer price index fell .2% in September, as the price of gas slumped 9% for the month. However, the cost of food rose .4% on higher prices for dairy and fruits.
After reaching a record in July, job openings declined in August, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. Openings fell to 5.37 million from 5.67 million in July. With 5.1 million hires for the month, the hiring rate held at 3.6%, while the quits rate was also unchanged at 1.9%.
The Philly Fed manufacturing index was negative in October for the second month in a row, rising just slightly to -4.5 from -6 in September. A gauge of shipments slipped below zero, and a measure of new orders also fell to negative territory for the first time since May 2013. Indicators for unfilled orders and delivery time were also negative.
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
Industrial production fell .2% in September, declining for the second month in a row on weakness in oil and gas drilling.