Saturday, 8 December 2007

Economies grow but may be losing momentum

US employment continued to grow at a moderate pace in November. MarketWatch reports:

The economy added 94,000 nonfarm payroll jobs last month, according to a survey of business establishments, the Labor Department said in a mixed report released Friday...

Payrolls had risen a revised 170,000 in October. Payroll growth in September and October was revised lower by a total of 48,000.

However, a separate survey of households showed the strongest job growth in nearly six years, with 696,000 more people saying they had jobs in November. As a result, the unemployment rate was steady at 4.7%.

But the economy could still deteriorate.

US consumer confidence is still weakening, with the Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index falling to 74.5 in December from 76.1 in November.

In addition, while the Economic Cycle Research Institute's Weekly Leading Index rose to 138.7 last week from 136.9 the week before, its annualised growth rate fell to minus 2.7 percent from minus 2.2 percent, reaching its lowest since the week of 22 November 2002.

In the meantime, other economies are also showing sluggish growth. For example, Japan's economic growth rate for the third quarter has been revised down to an annualised pace of 1.5 percent from an initial estimate of a 2.6 percent expansion while its leading index continues to signal a weak outlook.

And out of the UK comes some justification for Thursday's rate cut by the BoE as the National Institute of Economic and Social Research reports that the economy grew by 0.6 percent in the three months to end-November, its slowest in more than a year, and expects “further deceleration leading to a period of below-trend growth next year and probably in 2009”.

Europe's economy has so far proven relatively resilient, and Italy's economy even accelerated to a 0.4 percent growth rate in the third quarter. Nevertheless, German industrial production fell 0.3 percent in October.

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