The soon-to-be-renamed-Boring-Book, for its constant uniformity of mediocre Goldilocks data offered little to strengthen bulls or bears (as usual) but it seems weather was the key once again. With 119 references to "weather" (6 times more than the January report), they remind us that:
- *FED SAW ECONOMY GROW EVEN AS HARSH WEATHER SLOWED HIRING, SALES
- *FED SAYS OUTLOOK 'AMONG MOST DISTRICTS REMAINED OPTIMISTIC'
But - the "m" words continue to dominate:
- *FED SAYS MOST REPORTS OF IMPROVEMENT WERE 'MODEST TO MODERATE'
As 8 of the 12 districts "reported improved levels of activity"... but but but the weather. Healthcare concerns were cited 16 times.
After removing filler words, only one thing matters...
On the weather...
Several contacts indicated that residential mortgage lending had nearly come to a halt, in part because of this winter's extreme weather. However, a Virginia lender believed that the demand for new homes is there, but that people are "just trying to survive the weather right now."
Construction has been "slow to come out of the ground" primarily due to weather conditions.
Contacts remarked that energy prices had risen due to increased demand during the extremely cold weather
Reports on labor were mixed, as weather-related shutdowns slowed hiring slightly.
Some weather related effects were noted for a few sectors late in the period. However, the outlook remains generally optimistic
However, a number of contacts stated that the unusual winter weather affected production in late January and output was lower than planned for that month.
Contacts in Chicago indicated that higher healthcare premiums increased non-wage labor costs, while a growing number of employers in Cleveland reported passing through rising healthcare costs to their employees.
Contacts remain concerned about general macroeconomic conditions and uncertainty surrounding healthcare reform.
Several contacts express concerns about continued uncertainty regarding how healthcare reform will affect the staffing industry.
A growing number of employers are passing through rising healthcare costs to their employees.
Reports of rising costs related to healthcare were widespread. There is concern among small builders that employees may lose their employer-paid insurance.