Friday, 23 December 2005

Good economic news from US and Japan

The US economy was in good shape in November, according to this Reuters report. Personal spending and income posted good gains in November, especially after adjusting for inflation.

U.S. consumer spending rose a moderate 0.3 percent in November...

In its report on personal income, the Commerce Department said consumer prices fell a record 0.4 percent last month, reflecting plunging energy costs from hurricane-induced peaks...

Taking into account the price drop, consumer spending rose a steep 0.7 percent in November. At the same time, personal income climbed 0.3 percent, or a 0.7 percent gain after adjustment for inflation.

... Excluding volatile food and energy, the department's price index for consumer spending...edged up just 0.1 percent.

The mild November core inflation rise put the year-on-year increase at 1.8 percent, below the upwardly revised 1.9 percent gain for October and the slimmest increase since March 2004...

... The saving rate, the percentage of after-tax income socked away, held steady at a negative 0.2 percent in November -- a sixth straight month in negative territory.

Things look good on the employment front too.

Separately, the Labor Department said first-time claims for jobless aid fell a sharp 13,000 last week to 318,000, the lowest level in more than a month...

The drop in initial claims pulled the closely watched four-week moving average of new claims...down to 324,500 from 329,250 a week earlier.

And to top it off, the leading index rose in November.

The private sector Conference Board said on Thursday its Index of Leading Indicators, which is supposed to forecast economic trends up to six months ahead, rose for the second straight month in November, climbing by 0.5 percent after a revised 1 percent rise in October.

There was also good economic news from Japan, according to this Bloomberg report.

Japan's trade surplus widened for the first time in eight months and the nation's service industries expanded more than expected, adding to evidence that the world's second-largest economy will grow for a fifth year.

The November trade surplus rose to 600.6 billion yen ($5.1 billion) from 597.3 billion yen a year earlier, the Ministry of Finance said in a report today. An index measuring services provided by industries including construction and transport rose 1.2 percent in October from September, beating the 0.7 percent median estimate of 33 economists in a Bloomberg survey...

Exports in November climbed 14.7 percent to 5.91 trillion yen, the second highest ever. Imports advanced 16.6 percent to a record 5.31 trillion yen.

The news from Europe was not so good, though. Industrial new orders slowed in October.

The euro-zone industrial new orders index fell by 0.5% in October 2005 compared to September 2005. The index rose by 1.6% in September and remained unchanged in August. EU25 new orders remained stable in October 2005, after rises of 0.7% in September and of 0.2% in August.

In October 2005 compared to October 2004, industrial new orders increased by 4.4% in the euro-zone and by 4.9% in the EU25.

In the UK, the current account deficit hit a record high in the third quarter.

The Office for National Statistics said the current account gap widened to 10.2 billion pounds from 1.36 billion pounds in the second quarter.

That was the highest cash deficit since records began and equalled 3.4 percent of GDP, the highest since the fourth quarter of 2000...

Separately, the ONS left GDP growth for the third quarter unrevised at 0.4 percent on the quarter, as expected, but services output was marked up to a rise of 0.7 percent from 0.6 percent.

The ONS also released third quarter data showing business investment grew by 0.3 percent on the quarter and by 1.9 percent on the year.

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