By the numbers: The economy this week

Update for May 26, 2020

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


  • Housing starts plummeted 30.2% in April, according to the Census Bureau.
  • The Markit Flash U.S. PMI Composite Output Index jumped to 36.4 in May from 27.0 in April.
  • Existing home sales dropped 17.8% in April, the National Association of Realtors reported.


  • The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 17.2% for the week ending May 9, an increase of 1.7 percentage points from the previous week's revised rate, according to the Department of Labor.


  • As of May 14, 2020, of the 452 S&P 500 Index companies reporting first-quarter earnings, 303 beat analysts’ estimates, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.


  • The European Commission’s Flash Consumer Confidence Indicator for the euro area improved in May, but remained at levels below the long-term average.


  • The Markit Flash Eurozone PMI Composite Output Index rose to 30.5 in May from 13.6 in April. [up arrow]
  • The Markit Flash Germany PMI Composite Output Index increased to 31.4 in May from 17.4 in April.


  • The yield on the 10-year Treasury note traded in a range.


  • Many countries around the world are now in recession as a result of the "sudden stop" induced by governments to contain the spread of COVID-19.
  • 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.
  • Brexit, Italian debt dynamics, and a fragile European banking system are likely to renew further tensions within the eurozone over fiscal burden sharing, once the pandemic shock recedes.