Economic Update, May 16, 2013
• The ratio of inventories to sales throughout the U.S. economy ticked up slightly to 1.29 on a seasonally adjusted basis in March from 1.28 in February as inventories remained virtually unchanged but sales fell 1.1 percent. The figures suggest a possible slight reduction in freight demand in the near term.
• U.S. retail and food service sales for April totaled $419 billion, up 0.1 percent from March and 3.7 percent from April 2012. Sales might have risen by more without falling gasoline prices during the month. The Census Bureau does not adjust for prices.
• The national average retail diesel price rose 2.1 cents to $3.866 a gallon during the week ended May 13. It was the first increase in diesel prices in 11 weeks.
• U.S. freight railroads’ carloads were up 0.6 percent for the week ended May 11 compared to the same week last year. Intermodal traffic also was up 3.9 percent.
• First-time claims for unemployment insurance increased by 32,000 during the week ended May 11 to a seasonally adjusted 360,000. The four-week moving average was 339,250, an increase of 1,250 from the previous week’s average.
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