FR: Consumer Mfgd Goods Consumption

Fri Jan 30 01:45:00 CST 2015

Consensus Actual Previous Revised
Month over Month 0.2% 1.2% 0.1% -0.1%
Year over Year 0.9% 0.2% 0.3%

Spending on manufactured goods closed out the year on a surprisingly robust note. Although November's 0.1 percent monthly gain was revised away to leave a 0.1 percent dip, December saw a 1.2 percent rebound that boosted annual growth of purchases from 0.3 percent to 0.9 percent.

The year-end bounce was largely attributable to a 1.4 percent jump in purchases of textiles as elsewhere the subsectors typically struggled. Hence, while the other products category edged up just 0.1 percent versus November, autos were down 0.3 percent and household goods were off 0.9 percent.

December's surge made for much better fourth quarter picture than seemed likely just last month and sales over the period grew a respectable enough 0.6 percent. Even so, quarterly total goods spending, within which December saw a hefty 1.5 percent jump on the month, was still only 0.1 percent higher versus July-September.

Consumption appears to be picking up some momentum following a miserable third quarter and consumer confidence in January was at a 2 1/2 year high. Weaker oil prices have probably helped but with unemployment still worryingly close to record highs, it remains to be seen whether the apparent turn in trend can be sustained over the opening months of 2015.

Consumption of manufactured goods by consumers is an indicator of consumer spending for household durable goods such as autos and furniture. The data are released separately but also as part of the measure of total goods spending.

This indicator is a measure of retail sales and is unique to France. It measures consumer spending for household durable goods such as autos and furniture. The data are seasonally and workday adjusted. These adjustments eliminate the fluctuations that are solely due to changes in the number of working days. The data appear to be particularly sensitive to the number of worked Saturdays. With consumer spending a large part of the economy, market players continually monitor spending patterns. Retail sales are a measure of consumer well-being.

The pattern in consumer spending is often the foremost influence on stock and bond markets. For stocks, strong economic growth translates to healthy corporate profits and higher stock prices. For bonds, the focus is whether economic growth goes overboard and leads to inflation. Ideally, the economy walks that fine line between strong growth and excessive (inflationary) growth.

Retail sales not only give you a sense of the big picture, but also the trends among different types of retailers. Perhaps auto sales are especially strong or apparel sales are showing exceptional weakness. These trends from the retail sales data can help you spot specific investment opportunities, without having to wait for a company's quarterly or annual report.