FR: Consumer Mfgd Goods Consumption

April 28, 2017 01:45 CDT

Actual Previous Revised
Month over Month -0.3% 1.3% 1.4%
Year over Year 0.6% 1.6% 1.7%

Following a smaller revised 1.4 percent jump in February, household spending on manufactured goods fell 0.3 percent in March to reduce annual growth from 1.7 percent to 0.6 percent, a 4-month low.

The weakness was driven by textiles which saw a 1.9 percent monthly drop after an 8.7 percent surge in February. However, elsewhere developments were more positive with autos up 0.4 percent, household durables 0.5 percent and other engineered goods 0.4 percent. Even so, with food down 0.3 percent and energy off 1.8 percent, total goods spending fell 0.4 percent versus February and was also 0.4 percent lower on the year.

The sluggishness of the March data made for a 0.4 percent quarterly fall in overall goods consumption. This followed a 0.9 percent increase in the fourth quarter and was in large part responsible for the deceleration in the period's real GDP growth (see today's calendar entry). Consumer confidence was unchanged this month but election uncertainty could make for some downside risk at the start of the current quarter.

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 as part of the report on 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.