By the numbers: The economy this week

Update for March 23, 2020   |   Download PDF

Highlights of key economic statistics from last week compiled by Putnam Investments.


  • Housing starts fell 1.5% in February, the Census Bureau stated.
  • The Conference Board Leading Economic Index rose slightly in February.
  • Retail sales slipped 0.5% in February, according to the Census Bureau.
  • Existing home sales climbed 6.5% in February.


  • Initial jobless claims surged by 70,000 to 281,000 in the week ended March 14, 2020, according to the Labor Department.


  • As of March 13, 2020, of the 499 S&P 500 Index companies reporting fourth-quarter earnings, 346 beat analysts’ estimates, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.


  • The ZEW Indicator of Economic Sentiment for Germany plummeted in March.
  • Trading on the New York Stock Exchange halted briefly on multiple days due to large price declines.


  • Euro area annual inflation dropped to 1.2% in February from 1.4% in January, Eurostat stated.
  • Euro area annual labor cost growth jumped 2.4% in the fourth quarter of 2019, Eurostat reported.
  • Eurostat reported that construction output grew 3.6% in the euro area in January.


  • The yield on the 10-year Treasury note traded in a range.
  • The Bank of Japan decided to boost economic stimulus with asset purchases and zero-interest loans to businesses.


  • Global manufacturing remains under pressure from lagged effects of tariffs, supply chain disruptions, and the China slowdown caused by the coronavirus.
  • Brexit, Italian debt dynamics, and a fragile European banking system risk tipping Europe back into recession.
  • Risk asset price movements continue forcing policy makers toward much more aggressive, targeted fiscal policy as a response to the demand shock introduced by pandemic fears.

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All economic and performance information is historical and does not guarantee future results. The views and opinions expressed are those of Putnam Investments, are subject to change with market conditions, and are not meant as investment advice.