By the numbers: The economy this week

Update for March 23, 2020

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.