In September, US retail sales rose for a fourth consecutive month and at the sharpest pace in seven months. Retail sales jumped by 1.1% M/M, while an increase by 0.7% M/M was expected. The previous figure was significantly upwardly revised, from 0.0% M/M to 0.3% M/M. The details show that strength was led by motor vehicle & parts (3.6% M/M), clothing (1.3% M/M), gasoline stations (1.2% M/M), eating & drinking (1.2% M/M) and furniture (1.1% M/M). Sales of sporting goods (-0.3% M/M), food & beverages (-0.2% M/M) and building material (-0.1% M/M) dropped in September. Retail sales excluding autos & gas rose by a more moderate, but still solid 0.5% M/M, slightly more than expected (0.4% M/M). After poor consumer spending in the second quarter, the revision in the July/August data and strong September figures bode well for Q3 GDP, which is expected to come out significantly stronger than second quarter GDP at maybe 2.5%.
After an improvement in September, University of Michigan consumer confidence weakened unexpectedly in October. The headline index dropped from 59.4 to 57.5, while the consensus was looking for an improvement to 60.2. The breakdown shows that both the economic conditions (73.8 from 74.9) and economic outlook (47.0 from 49.4) sub-index weakened in August. Inflation expectations however eased with 1-yr ahead expectations falling from 3.3% to 3.2% and 5-yr ahead expectations dropping from 2.9% to 2.7%. It is disappointing that consumer confidence weakened again after an improvement in September, despite a stronger payrolls report. The Michigan indicator is however sensitive to financial market developments, which might explain the weakening in consumer sentiment.