Weekly economic update

Economic Update for May 21, 2018   |   Download PDF

Highlights of news-making events of the past week, from the economy and profits to Europe and interest rates.


  • Housing starts dropped 3.7% in April, according to the Census Bureau.
  • The Conference Board Leading Economic Index increased 0.4% in April.
  • Retail sales increased 0.3% in April, the Census Bureau noted in an advance estimate.
  • Industrial production grew 0.7% in April, the Federal Reserve reported.


  • Initial jobless claims increased by 11,000 to 222,000 in the week ended May 12, 2018, the Labor Department reported.


  • As of May 10, 2018, of the 456 S&P 500 Index companies reporting first-quarter earnings, 351 — or 76.9% — beat analysts’ estimates, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.


  • The ZEW Indicator of Economic Sentiment for Germany remained unchanged in May.

  • Annual inflation fell to 1.2% in the euro area during April from 1.3% in March, Eurostat reported.
  • Euro area industrial production increased 0.5% in March, Eurostat noted.
  • GDP increased 0.4% in the euro area in the first quarter, according to Eurostat.
  • Germany’s GDP increased 0.3% in the first quarter, according to the Federal Statistical Office.


  • The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose.


  • A strengthening U.S. dollar, rising interest rates, and higher oil prices may begin to pressure select emerging markets.
  • Higher hedging costs for European and Asian investors are weighing on U.S. credit spreads.
  • Populist coalition government in Italy may re-open wounds of the European sovereign debt crisis.

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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.