Rea Sea Shipping Attacks Not Expected to Slow Cargo Traffic, NRF Report Says
February 09, 2024 04:12 PM EST
Despite the slowdown from attacks in the Red Sea, shipping volume to U.S. ports was higher year-over-year in December, according to data released Friday.
Projections show cargo traffic is expected to increase through the first half of the year, according to shipment data from the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates. Using a surplus of capacity that shippers built up during the pandemic, carriers have been able to ease the impact of attacks on shipping vessels in the Red Sea.
“The shipping industry has rapidly adjusted by adding extra vessels to its networks, and has returned to normal weekly ship arrivals,” said Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett.
In December, U.S. ports handled 1.87 million cargo units, down 1% from last month, but up 8.3% from December 2023 totals.
The analysts forecast volume will be up slightly in January before jumping by as much as 20% year-over-year in February. Overall, the report puts cargo traffic into U.S. ports up by as much as 5.3% during the first half of the year.
Oxford: Housing Prices Push Household Wealth Higher, Consumers Likely to Keep Spending
February 09, 2024 03:01 PM EST
Household finances are holding up well after the pandemic, making it likely that consumers will continue spending robustly in 2024, Oxford Economics said in a research note.
Net worth has risen across the income spectrum, the report showed. Most income groups have higher net wealth than before the pandemic, which stems in part from soaring housing prices. Higher net wealth could help consumers continue spending at higher-than-expected levels in 2024,
“Since the pandemic, the state of households’ balance sheets has only strengthened, with the strong level of net worth helping to justify a low level of saving,” the note said.
Consumers are also looking better on debt, the note said. Debt levels have held steady as a share of consumers’ disposable income.
“Though the increase in credit card balances in recent years has gained attention, consumer debt as a share of income has fallen since the beginning of the pandemic, and the decrease has been most pronounced among low- and middle-income Americans,” the note said.
CEOs Are Feeling More Upbeat About the Economy
February 09, 2024 01:26 PM EST
CEOs are feeling more positive about the U.S. economy than they have in two years, according to a recent survey.
An index measuring CEO confidence gathered by The Conference Board rose to 53, above the 50 level that suggests optimism about the economy. This is the index’s first time exceeding 50 since the first quarter of 2022. It was at 46 in the last three months of 2023.
“CEOs are feeling better about the economy, but remain cautious about risks ahead,” said Conference Board Trustee Roger W. Ferguson, Jr. Friday.
CEOs said the greatest domestic challenge affecting businesses this year is political uncertainty ahead of US elections, with 51% citing it as the biggest concern. On the global economic front, persisting conflict was cited by 46% of those surveyed as the biggest risk.
Read more about CEOs’ economic outlook here.
Consumer Price Index Revisions Confirm Disinflation Trend
February 09, 2024 09:09 AM EST
Friday’s highly anticipated revisions to inflation data confirmed that prices continue to move in the Federal Reserve’s desired direction.
Every year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics makes seasonal adjustments to the consumer price index for the past five years. The routine revisions showed no significant changes to previously reported data this year.
Investors and economists were keeping a wary eye on the revisions after last year’s data showed inflation fell less aggressively than previously thought.
Federal Reserve Open Markets Committee (FOMC) members had said they would be considering the revision data as they continue to weigh when to start cutting interest rates. Chair Jerome Powell has said he’s still looking for “confidence” that inflation is falling in a sustained way.
“Keep calm and move on,” wrote CIBC’s Senior Economist Ali Jaffery Friday morning. “It was the surprise adjustments to the seasonal factors in 2022 that had FOMC officials nervous about another surprise this year but with pre-pandemic-like seasonal patterns re-emerging in 2023, there was a low risk of a surprise to begin with.”