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Retail Sales & Imports/Exports Reflect Ongoing Trade War

Mark Vickery

Friday, September 13, 2019

This morning ahead of the opening bell, new economic data on retail and imports hit the tape. While we see both positive and negative reads, much of these series of information have come in close to, or exceeded, expectations.

August Retail Sales reached +0.4%, easily surpassing the +0.1% estimate. This was, however, lower than July’s impressive read, which has been upwardly revised to +0.8%. Subtracting volatile auto sales, we see a read exactly in-line with estimates at 0.0%, down from the 1.0% reported for July. Ex-autos and gas, this figure recedes to -0.1%, a tad lower than expected.

Import Prices registered -0.5% on the headline, though anyone paying attention to the year-long trade war with China would understand this was pretty much expected. Stripping out fuel costs, we see -0.1%, also in-line with projections — down from the +0.1% posted on July’s revision.

Exports fell to -0.6% — again, largely due to the ongoing trade war, but still well south of the estimated -0.3% for August. It’s going to be tough to expect much relief in these sorts of metrics going forward as well, barring (of course) some sort of trade agreement with China, and perhaps monetary easing in the Eurozone helping U.S. trade over the Atlantic.

After the opening bell today, we get new reports on Consumer Sentiment for September and Business Inventories for July. We expect growth in the former — to 91.4 versus the 89.8 last posted. For the latter, we’re coming off a previous read of 0.0%; we shall see if the scales tip in either direction as of two months ago, which was prior to the latest ratcheting up of trade tariffs on Chinese goods.

Mark Vickery
Senior Editor

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