Highlights – What You Need To Know

U.S. CONSUMERS: Consumer confidence rose significantly in December's University of Michigan Survey of Consumers

  • Consumer sentiment increased 13% in December, erasing declines from the previous four months, driven chiefly by expectations of improvement in U.S. inflation
    • Long-run inflation expectations fell from 3.2% last month to 2.8% this month, matching the second lowest reading seen since July 2021
  • Personal disposable income* 7.8% in October 2023; consumer expenditures, basically flat MTM, increased 6.1% YOY
  • Total Consumer Debt
    • Credit card balances remain high and consumer debt continues to grow – revolving credit rose 10.4% vs. 2022
    • Total consumer credit increased 5.5%
  • Loan Delinquencies
    • Delinquency rates for consumer loans increased again through Q2-2023; the rate has been rising since 2021 and is at its highest level since 2019, with consumers continuing to take on more debt


  • November retail sales rose 0.6 percent from October 2023, and were 5.2 percent above last year
    • YTD retail sales (excl. motor vehicles and gas stations) have increased 4.8 percent
  • U.S. Vehicle Sales
    • New vehicle sales increased 7.3% YOY, with CPI 1.3% above LY
    • Used vehicles sales (through October) increased 2.2% vs. last year, November CPI-Used Vehicles index was down 3.8%
  • Air travel
    • Air travel increased again among U.S. travelers; year-to-date, TSA checkpoint numbers are up 12.7%
    • The price of air travel was down .3% MTM, and 12% lower than last year

BROAD ECONOMIC INDICATORS: Inflation is slowing but interest rates remain a challenge

  • Interest rates: Bank Prime Loan Rate (8.5%) and Federal Funds Rate (5.33%) were unchanged from previous month, with many analysts setting expectations of 3-5 rate decreases in 2024
  • Gross Domestic Product: Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 5.2 percent in the third quarter of 2023, according to the "second" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis; Q2 real GDP increased 2.1 percent
    • GDP uptick reflected increases in consumer spending, private inventory investment, exports, state and local government spending, federal government spending, residential fixed investment, and nonresidential fixed investment. Imports increased
  • The Consumer Price Index rose 3.1 percent, with Core CPI up 4.0%
    • Motor fuel index was down 9.2%
    • Housing increased 5.2% and Food Away From Home rose 5.3%

U.S. EMPLOYMENT: Unemployment remains low

  • Unemployment dropped to 3.7%; non-farm employment was up 1.8% month-to-month, with employment rising by 199,000
    HOUSING: Mortgage rates (30-year fixed-rate) hovered around 7%, marking a drop from its recent peak of nearly 7.8% six weeks ago

HOUSING: Mortgage rates (30-year fixed-rate) hovered around 7%, marking a drop from its recent peak of nearly 7.8% six weeks ago

  • New home sales increased nearly 18% in October, following a 26.8% increase in September; housing starts dropped 4.2%
  • The October median U.S. new home price declined 12.3% YOY and 3.1% vs. previous month

SUPPLY CHAIN: Freight costs continue to remain stable

  • In November, general freight trucking index was down 5.8% over last year and .5% lower than the previous month
  • Deep sea freight rates are down 10.1% YOY and 1.6% higher MTM

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