Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Shoots of Recovery???

Home prices up, first in 34 months, Case Shiller
Quote:
U.S. home prices rose on a monthly basis for the first time since July 2006, according to the national Case-Shiller home price index released Tuesday. On a month-to-month basis, prices in 20 selected cities rose 0.5% in May, with gains in 13 cities. "This could be an indication that home price declines are finally stabilizing," said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee for Standard & Poor's, which compiles the Case-Shiller index. Sales slipped 0.9% in April. On a year-to-year basis, prices in 20 selected cities fell 17.1%. This is a slower pace of decline than the 18.1% drop in April.


Recession less severe in early summer, Beige Book
Quote:
The U.S. economic recession seems to becoming less severe as the summer progresses, according to the Federal Reserve's latest Beige Book report released Wednesday. While still weak, some regions reported that the pace of the downturn had moderated. Other regions said that activity had begun to stabilize. The Beige Book is designed to give Fed officials a "feel" for conditions on the ground. The report said retail sales remained sluggish, contacts in the factory sector saw a turnaround on the horizon and bank lending was flat or weakening. Perhaps the most significant development is that businesses across the country are finding creative ways to cut wages and benefits. Economists note that as long as wages are under pressure, the threat of deflation remains. Labor market conditions remain slack, the report said.



Q2 GDP falls 1.0%, shallower than past 6 months
Quote:
The U.S. economy contracted at a much smaller rate than in the past six months, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Real gross domestic product fell at a 1.0% annualized rate in the second quarter, compared with an average 5.9% drop over the past two quarters. However, this is the fourth straight quarter with a contraction in GDP. This has never happened before since records began in 1947. The big story for the second quarter was in the much smaller decrease in business investment, exports and inventories. There was also an upturn in federal and state government spending. The government also released comprehensive benchmark revisions to GDP data, but they did little to change the basic story of the economy.


U.S. July ISM factory index rises to 48.9%
Quote:
Conditions for the nation's manufacturers continued to get better in July, the Institute for Supply Management reported Monday. The ISM index rose to 48.9% in July from 44.8% in June. The July index is the strongest since September. The consensus forecast of estimates collected by MarketWatch was for the index to rise to 46.2%. Readings below 50 indicate contraction. Below the headline, the report was strong. The data is showing that the manufacturing downturn is coming to an end. Both production and new orders rose above 50%. The ISM index has been improving slowly since hitting a low of 32.9% in December. The index was last above 50% in January 2008.


Q2 GDP falls 1.0%, shallower than past 6 months
Quote:
The U.S. economy contracted at a much smaller rate than in the past six months, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Real gross domestic product fell at a 1.0% annualized rate in the second quarter, compared with an average 5.9% drop over the past two quarters. However, this is the fourth straight quarter with a contraction in GDP. This has never happened before since records began in 1947. The big story for the second quarter was in the much smaller decrease in business investment, exports and inventories. There was also an upturn in federal and state government spending. The government also released comprehensive benchmark revisions to GDP data, but they did little to change the basic story of the economy.


U.S. June factory orders rise 0.4%
Quote:
Orders for U.S.-made factory goods rose 0.4% in June, outperforming expectations from Wall Street analysts, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected orders to fall 1%, following a gain of 1.1% in the prior month. Orders for durable goods fell 2.2%, an improvement from the government's prior estimate of a 2.5% drop. Orders for nondurable goods rose 2.7%. Excluding transportation equipment, new factory orders rose 2.3%. Orders for core capital goods, which are used by businesses to expand or update their productive capacity, rose for the second consecutive month, gaining 2.6% in June. Meanwhile, overall shipments rose 1.4%, following 10 consecutive months of declines. Shipments of durable goods fell 0.1% in June, and were down for 11 consecutive months, the longest streak of declines since comparable data were first published in 1992.


Job losses moderate in July Jobless rate dips to 9.4% as 247,000 nonfarm payrolls lost

Productivity rises 6.4%, fastest rate in six years
Quote:
U.S. companies slashed their workers' hours in the second quarter, boosting the productivity of the workplace at an annualized rate of 6.4%, the Labor Department reported Tuesday. It was the fastest increase in productivity in the nonfarm business sector in nearly six years. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch were looking for a gain of 5.4%. Unit labor costs - a key indicator of inflationary pressures - plunged at a 5.8% rate, the largest decline in nine years and a slightly larger drop that the 5.3% decline expected by economists. Hourly compensation rose just 0.2% in the second quarter.


Economy leveling out, but rates to stay low a while Fed to stop buying Treasurys in October, FOMC says

Consumer prices unchanged in July
Quote:
U.S. consumer prices were unchanged in July, after seasonal adjustments, and were down 2.1% year-over-year in the sharpest annual decline since 1950, the Labor Department reported Friday. Analysts polled by MarketWatch had expected no change in the monthly consumer price index. For July, energy prices fell 0.4%, and food prices fell 0.3%, while prices rose for goods such as new vehicles, tobacco, medical care and apparel. The core CPI, which excludes often-volatile food and energy prices, rose 0.1% in July, matching analysts' expectations. Of note, shelter prices in July fell 0.2%, the largest decline since 1982, while prices for meat, poultry, fish and eggs fell 1.3%, the largest decline since 1979. In June the overall CPI rose 0.7%, while the core gained 0.2%.


Industrial production rises for first time since October Output rises 0.5% in July as auto production surges 20%

Builders' confidence inches higher in August Sentiment index rises to 18, highest in more than a year

New York factories expanding in August
Quote:
Business improved for manufacturers in New York in August, according to the Empire State index released Monday by the New York Federal Reserve Bank. The index rose to 12.1 from negative 0.6 in July. It's the first positive reading since April 2008, and the highest since November 2007. Readings over zero mean most firms said business was improving compared with the prior month. Two key components of the index -- new orders and shipments -- rose to their highest levels in more than a year


Global recession over, but will leave scars: IMF

Leading indicators rise; bottom of recession seen
Quote:
An economic recovery may begin soon, and the recession is bottoming out, the Conference Board said Thursday. For its fourth consecutive monthly gain, the index of leading economic indicators rose in 0.6% in July, following an upwardly revised increase of 0.8% in June. Economists polled by MarketWatch were looking for a gain of 0.7% in July. The interest rate spread was the largest positive contributor, while a reading on consumer expectations was the largest negative contributor. Overall, six of the 10 indicators were positive contributors, three were negative, and one was steady. The six-month growth rate for the overall index hit its highest level since mid-2004, according to the Conference Board.


Durable orders jump 4.9% on aircraft bookings
Quote:
A doubling in aircraft bookings in July drove orders for new U.S.-made durable goods up by 4.9%, the largest increase in two years, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Excluding the 18.4% increase in transportation goods, orders rose 0.8%, the third straight gain and the longest upward streak in four years. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch were looking for a 4% gain in durable-goods orders in July. Shipments for durable goods rose 2% in July after a 0.7% increase in June. Inventories fell 0.8% in July. Orders are down 26% in the first seven months of 2009 compared with the same period last year.


Consumer confidence index rises to 54.1
Quote:
U.S. consumers' mood brightened considerably in August, as their expectations about the near future were the most optimistic since the recession began, the Conference Board reported Tuesday. The consumer confidence index rose to 54.1 in August from 47.4 in July. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected the index to rise to 48.0. Consumer confidence "appears to be back on the mend," said Lynn Franco, head of the consumer research center at the Conference Board. Consumers were a bit more upbeat than they were in July about current economic conditions, but were markedly sunnier about the economy and their own financial situation over the next six months.


Home prices rise for second month in a row, up 1.4% Case-Shiller index down 15.4% in the 12 months through June

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