The Commerce Department said U.S. factory orders fell 5.6 percent last month and that durable goods orders were revised to an even steeper 8.7 percent decline, compared with the 7.8 percent retreat announced last week...
Pending sales of existing homes fell a steeper-than-expected 4.1 percent last month, according to the National Association of Realtors, though some analysts thought this might be related to cold weather in some U.S. regions...
The Labor Department said nonfarm business productivity slowed sharply to a 1.6 percent annualized pace in the fourth quarter from the 3.0 percent previously reported. This trimmed productivity gains for 2006 as a whole to 1.6 percent, the weakest rise since a matching pace set in 1997.
The slippage also sent unit labor costs, a gauge of inflation and profit pressure watched closely by the Fed, up by a hefty 6.6 percent annualized rate in the fourth quarter.
For the year as a whole, unit labor costs rose 3.2 percent, the largest gain since 2000.
Meanwhile, in Europe, eurozone GDP growth in the fourth quarter has been confirmed at 0.9 percent but retail sales were down 1.0 percent in January, while in the UK, the latest survey from the British Retail Consortium showed that retail sales remained robust in February with a 5.6 percent growth over the same month last year.
If economic data have not been particularly helpful to markets, central banks appear to be compensating. From Bloomberg:
The Bank of Canada kept its main interest rate unchanged for a sixth meeting, and repeated language signaling policy makers aren't leaning toward a rate cut or increase soon.
The target rate for overnight loans between banks remains 4.25 percent, the highest since August 2001 and 1 percentage point less than the U.S. Federal Reserve's target. All 32 economists in a Bloomberg News survey had predicted no change...
Building permits jumped 11 percent to a record high in January, Statistics Canada said today, suggesting the housing sector still poses an inflation risk.
And today, Bloomberg reports no change in interest rates in Australia even as economic growth accelerated in the fourth quarter.
Australia's economic expansion accelerated twice as much as expected in the fourth quarter as consumers and companies spent more.
Gross domestic product rose 1 percent from the third quarter, when it expanded a 0.3 percent, the Bureau of Statistics said in Sydney today. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 25 economists was a 0.5 percent increase...
The Reserve Bank today left its overnight cash rate target unchanged for March, at a six-year-high 6.25 percent.