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Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey

The Free Press WV

The number of job openings was little changed at 6.1 million on the last business day of February, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the month, hires and separations were little changed at 5.5 million and 5.2 million, respectively. Within separations, the quits rate was unchanged at 2.2 percent and the layoffs and discharges rate was little changed at 1.1 percent. This release includes estimates of the number and rate of job openings, hires, and separations for the nonfarm sector by industry and by four geographic regions.


Job Openings

On the last business day of February, there were 6.1 million job openings, little changed from January. The job openings rate was 3.9 percent in February. The number of job openings edged down for total private and was little changed for government. Job openings increased in finance and insurance (+69,000) and state and local government education (+31,000). Job openings decreased in a number of industries with the largest decreases being in accommodation and food services (-91,000), construction (-56,000), and wholesale trade (-38,000). The number of job openings decreased in the West region.


Hires

The number of hires was little changed at 5.5 million in February. The hires rate was 3.7 percent. The number of hires was little changed for total private and for government. Hires decreased in educational services (-48,000). The number of hires was little changed in all four regions.

Separations

Total separations includes quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations. Total separations is referred to as turnover. Quits are generally voluntary separations initiated by the employee. Therefore, the quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to leave jobs. Layoffs and discharges are involuntary separations initiated by the employer. Other separations includes separations due to retirement, death, disability, and transfers to other locations of the same firm.

The number of total separations was little changed at 5.2 million in February. The total separations rate was 3.5 percent. The number of total separations was little changed for total private and for government. Total separations increased in federal government (+9,000) but decreased in state and local government education (-17,000). The number of total separations was little changed in all four regions.

The number of quits was little changed at 3.2 million in February. The quits rate was 2.2 percent. The number of quits was little changed for total private and for government. Quits decreased in other services (-41,000). The number of quits was little changed in all four regions.

There were 1.6 million layoffs and discharges in February, little changed from January. The layoffs and discharges rate was 1.1 percent in February. The number of layoffs and discharges was little changed for total private and unchanged for government. Layoffs and discharges decreased in state and local government education (-13,000). The number of layoffs and discharges decreased in the Northeast region.

The number of other separations was little changed in February at 334,000. The number of other separations was little changed for total private and for government. Other separations increased in federal government (+7,000) but decreased in nondurable goods manufacturing (-6,000). The number of other separations was little changed in all four regions.


Net Change in Employment

Large numbers of hires and separations occur every month throughout the business cycle. Net employment change results from the relationship between hires and separations. When the number of hires exceeds the number of separations, employment rises, even if the hires level is steady or declining. Conversely, when the number of hires is less than the number of separations, employment declines, even if the hires level is steady or rising. Over the 12 months ending in February, hires totaled 65.6 million and separations totaled 63.3 million, yielding a net employment gain of 2.3 million. These totals include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

U.S. Market Weekly Summary – Week Ending 04.13.2018

The Free Press WV

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 2.0% this week, erasing last week’s decline as the energy and technology sectors led a rebound.

The market benchmark ended Friday’s session at 2,656.30, up from last week’s closing level of 2,604.47 and above the prior week’s closing level of 2,640.87. The gains came as a number of stocks received positive analyst actions ahead of their Q1 results.

The energy sector had the largest percentage increase of the week, up 6.0%, as crude-oil futures climbed to fresh three-year highs. The rise in crude futures came amid concerns about instability in the Middle East.

Among the energy sector’s gainers this week, shares of TechnipFMC (FTI) rose 12% as Goldman Sachs upgraded its investment rating on the stock to buy from neutral amid increased expectations for 2018-2020 inbound orders. Meanwhile, Helmerich & Payne (HP) shares also rose 12% this week as Wells Fargo upgraded its investment rating on the stock to market perform from underperform.

The technology sector had the second-largest percentage rise of the week, up 3.7%. Its gainers included Micron Technology (MU), whose shares rose 7.8% as the company received a corporate-credit-rating increase from S&P Global ratings to BB+, just one notch below investment grade, from BB. S&P said the upgrade was based “on Micron’s good execution on technology process node transitions to date, considerably higher profitability, and constructive industry fundamentals over the coming year.“

Also in the technology sector, shares of Nvidia (NVDA) rose 8.1% this week as Morgan Stanley upgraded its investment rating on the shares to overweight from equalweight, betting on the chip maker’s strength in gaming.

All but three sectors rose this week. On the downside, utilities—which often move in the opposite direction of energy—fell 1.3%, real estate slipped 1.2% and telecommunications edged down 0.6%.

The utilities sector’s decliners included American Electric Power (AEP), down 1.7% on the week, and Consolidated Edison (ED), down 2.4%.

U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes

The Free Press WV

U.S. import prices recorded no change in March, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, following a 0.3-percent rise in February. Higher nonfuel prices offset declining prices for imported fuel in March. Prices for U.S. exports advanced 0.3 percent in March, after rising 0.2 percent the previous month.


Imports

All Imports: Import prices recorded no change in March following rises of 0.3 percent in February and 0.8 percent in January. The index has not declined on a monthly basis since decreasing 0.2 percent in July 2017. Prices for U.S. imports rose 3.6 percent between March 2017 and March 2018. The last 12-month decline in import prices was a 0.2-percent drop for the period ended October 2016.

Fuel Imports: Fuel prices fell for the second consecutive month, declining 1.6 percent in March following a 1.0-percent drop in February. The March decrease was the largest monthly decline since the index dropped 3.6 percent in June 2017. Lower prices for both petroleum and natural gas drove the decline in fuel prices. Prices for imported petroleum declined 1.3 percent and natural gas fell 9.5 percent. Despite the decrease in March, fuel import prices advanced 18.7 percent between March 2017 and March 2018. The price index for petroleum imports rose 19.4 percent over the past 12 months. Prices for imported natural gas increased 20.0 percent over the same period.

All Imports Excluding Fuel: Prices for nonfuel imports rose 0.2 percent in March, following increases of 0.5 percent in February and January. Contributing to the March advance were higher import prices for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials; capital goods; and foods, feeds, and beverages, which more than offset declining prices for automotive vehicles and consumer goods. Nonfuel import prices advanced 2.1 percent on a 12-month basis for the second consecutive month, the largest over-the-year increases since a 2.4-percent advance in February 2012. An 8.0-percent rise in nonfuel industrial supplies and materials prices drove the 12-month advance in March.


Exports

All Exports: Prices for U.S. exports rose for the ninth consecutive month in March, advancing 0.3 percent. Increasing prices for agricultural exports drove the monthly advance, more than offsetting lower nonagricultural export prices. U.S. export prices increased 3.4 percent over the 12-month period ended in March and have not recorded an over-the-year drop since a 0.2-percent decline in November 2016.

Agricultural Exports: The price index for agricultural exports advanced 3.4 percent in March following a 0.6-percent rise in February. The March increase is the largest monthly advance since agricultural export prices rose 4.8 percent in August 2012. Higher prices for soybeans and wheat contributed to the monthly advance, increasing 7.8 percent and 8.0 percent, respectively. The price index for agricultural exports rose 3.0 percent over the past 12 months, driven by a 6.5-percent increase in meat prices.

All Exports Excluding Agriculture: Nonagricultural export prices ticked down 0.1 percent in March, after rising 0.2 percent in February and 0.9 percent in January. Declining prices for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials more than offset increases in capital goods and automotive vehicles export prices. Prices for nonagricultural exports advanced 3.4 percent between March 2017 and March 2018, as the price indexes for nonagricultural industrial supplies and materials, capital goods, consumer goods, and automotive vehicles all increased.

U.S. long-term mortgage rates flat to higher; 30-year 4.42 pct

The Free Press WV

Long-term U.S. mortgage rates were flat to slightly higher this week with the spring home buying season well underway.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages edged up to 4.42 percent from 4.40 percent last week. The benchmark stood at an average 4.08 percent a year ago.

Long-term rates fell last week, following a stretch of increases in January, February and early March as interest rates generally rose.

The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans held steady this week at 3.87 percent.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week.

The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. The fee on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 0.4 percent from 0.5 percent last week. The fee on 15-year fixed-rate loans was unchanged from last week at 0.4 percent.

The average rate for five-year adjustable-rate mortgages slipped to 3.61 percent from 3.62 percent last week. The fee declined to 0.3 percent from 0.4 percent.

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