Winter Amplifies U.S. Economy’s Seasonal Swing: Chart of the Day

Swings in U.S. economic statistics are back on schedule after being influenced by last winter’s relatively harsh weather, according to Michael Shaoul, chief executive officer of Marketfield Asset Management LLC.

The CHART OF THE DAY compares the Citigroup U.S. Economic Surprise Index’s readings this year with averages in 2010-2013, the first four full years of the current expansion. The index rose yesterday to 47, the highest level since January, after being negative as recently as Aug. 20.

“Seasonal influence over U.S. economic data is alive and well” if the move higher is any guide, Shaoul wrote yesterday in a report. This year’s surge is bigger than usual because of the earlier weather-related weakness, the New York-based money manager wrote.

In April, the Citigroup index fell to negative 45.9, the lowest since July 2012. The drop followed the coldest March in the contiguous 48 states in 12 years, according to the National Climatic Data Center. It also followed one of the 10 snowiest winter seasons in New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago since 1966, according to the Rutgers Global Snow Lab.

“There remains plenty of room for stronger-than-expected data to cause a substantial shift in investor sentiment,” the report said. Shaoul cited a prevailing view among economists that the U.S. won’t have “anything more than tepid growth.”

Gross domestic product will grow through next year at no more than a 3 percent quarterly pace, according to the average projection of economists in a Bloomberg survey. GDP expanded at a 4.2 percent rate last quarter after shrinking 2.1 percent in the first three months of 2014.

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