Yesterday, the Federal Reserve released the minutes of its August policy meeting. Reuters reports:
[M]inutes of the Federal Reserve's policy meeting showed most officials thought inflation would ease in the months ahead.
The minutes released on Tuesday also revealed the Fed's decision to hold interest rates steady at 5.25 percent on August 8 after 17 straight increases was a close call, showing officials remain concerned about a sudden pick-up in price pressures.
In the meantime, though, the US economy faces falling consumer confidence. More from the Reuters report:
[O]n Tuesday, the Conference Board said its consumer confidence index tumbled to 99.6 in August, from an upwardly revised 107.0 the prior month, as anxiety about job growth and future inflation dented consumer optimism.
The August reading was the lowest since November 2005 and well below Wall Street's forecast of 103.0. It also marked the biggest one-month decline since September 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina...
But two separate reports detailing higher U.S. chain store sales suggested shoppers haven't cut up their credit cards just yet.
Redbook Research said on Tuesday that chain store sales climbed 3.5 percent last week from a year earlier following a 3.3 percent rise the prior week.
The International Council of Shopping Centers and UBS said in a separate report that chain stores sales rose 0.6 percent last week from the previous week.
The consumer confidence story in Europe is a little more mixed. Bloomberg reports that German consumer confidence rose in August, the GfK index rising to 8.6 -- the highest level since November 2001-- from a revised 8.5 in the previous month, but Italian consumer confidence fell.
There was also mixed news from Japan. From AFP/CNA:
Japan's unemployment rate fell to 4.1 percent in July from 4.2 percent in June, underlining the steady recovery of the world's second-largest economy, official data showed Tuesday...
In July, spending by salaried households fell 1.3 percent from a year earlier, excluding the effects of price changes, and was down 1.7 percent from June, the Ministry of Internal Affairs said.
The average income of such households rose 5.9 percent from a year earlier.
In other recent news from Asia, July saw industrial production falling -- by 3.9 percent in South Korea and by 2.2 percent in Singapore.