Monday Moneybeat: Retailers and recession

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming next on The World and Everything in It, the Monday Moneybeat.

NICK EICHER, HOST: We are hearing a lot of talk about the economy cooling off, but American consumers aren’t buying it. What they’re buying is retail. In June, retail sales rose four-tenths of a percentage point, and it would’ve been almost twice that if gasoline weren’t so cheap. The June figure makes four straight months of rising retail sales. And if you compare this June with June a year ago, retail sales are up 3.4 percent. 

Here’s why that matters: What Americans spend on stuff is one key component of overall consumer spending, which drives more than two-thirds of economic output. Because of the strong retail sales, one economic forecasting firm revised up its estimate of gross domestic product for the April-to-June 2nd quarter from below 2 percent to above 2 percent.

That’s still not great, but it’s better than expected.

REICHARD: Factory output is up four-tenths of a percent in June, according to the Federal Reserve. And that’s a recovery, but it wasn’t enough to raise overall industrial production. For the month, it was flat—no increase, no loss. This is where we’re seeing the effect of trade disputes and slow global growth that has the Fed considering cutting interest rates to try to spur economic activity.

One other rough spot is the housing market. Home construction slipped nine-tenths of a percent in June. And applications for new construction fell too. That’s an indicator of future home-building. It’s at the lowest level since May of 2017.

EICHER: A rough week on Wall Street. All four major stock indexes posted losses. The Standard and Poor’s 500 had its worst week since May, down 1.2 percent. The Nasdaq also shed 1.2 percentage points. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell seven-tenths and the smaller-company index, the Russell 2000, lost two times that. It was off 1.4.

And that is this week’s Monday Moneybeat.

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa) In this July 10, 2019, photo Volkswagen Jetta sedans are lined up at the Quirk dealership in Manchester, N.H. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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