Today's Economic Data Highlights

From Ed McKelvey of Goldman Sachs

Retail sales are the key focus, with data also on small business sentiment, business inventories, and the weekly confidence report….
7:30: NFIB small business optimism index for Aug…back up?  The median forecast calls for a reversal of the small drop reported for July, but the bias of forecasts is to the side of a weaker outcome.
Median forecast (of 9): 89, ranging from 85 to 89; last 88.1. - This number came at 88.8
8:30: Retail sales for Aug…respite from the weakness, or more of the same? We are at the upper end of the range of estimates, apparently translating retailers’ reports into a better outcome than our counterparts.  However, this is a difficult report to predict, especially as revisions often have overriding effects.
On total sales, GS: +0.6%; median forecast (of 76): +0.3%, ranging from -0.3% to +0.6%; last: +0.4%;
On sales ex autos, GS: +0.7%; median forecast (of 74): +0.3%, ranging from -0.2% to +0.7%; last +0.2%.
10:00: Business inventories for Jul…another upside surprise?  The median forecast implies a 1.5% drop in retail inventories as manufacturers’ inventories rose 1.0% and wholesale inventories rose 1.1%.
Median forecast (of 50): +0.7%, ranging from +0.1% to +1.1%; last +0.3%.
17:00: ABC consumer comfort index…is that an upward trend?  We have often characterized this index as range-bound between depressed values of -54 and -41 since the spring of 2008.  However, if you squint really hard, you can detect a faint upward trend evident over that period.  For example, over the past 18 months, we have tested the high end of this range three times but the low end only once, and that was more than a year ago.  That said, this survey paints a much more dismal picture of confidence than the two monthly surveys.


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