US Economic Data: Muddled by Hurricane Sandy

The latest US economic data was in disarray because of the havoc-wreaking Hurricane Sandy

Robert Johnson, CFA 3 December, 2012 | 1:05PM
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This past week, Hurricane Sandy's destructive powers swept their way through a series of US reports, including new home sales, personal income, November same-store sales, and October consumption figures, rendering them nearly useless.

Further complicating matters, personal income data was revised sharply downward all the way back to April, along with consumption data for August-September. Then there is the violent up-and-down swings in auto production (at least, according to government data) that took 0.5% of third-quarter results. Did I mention that US gasoline prices have been acting like a giant yo-yo, too?

Unfortunately, the data is likely to remain muddled for at least another couple of months. The next piece of storm-addled data is likely to be the upcoming employment report for November, which could show some significant effects from Sandy. In fact, one can't rule out the possibility that we might potentially lose jobs in November, and October numbers could be subject to downward revisions.

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Robert Johnson, CFA  is director of economic analysis with Morningstar.

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