Yesterday brought yet more signs that the US economy is falling into recession. From Bloomberg:
The U.S. moved closer to a recession as manufacturing in the Philadelphia area shrank the most in seven years, while a measure of the economy's future performance declined for a fourth month.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's general economic index fell more than forecast this month to minus 24, showing the margin by which more firms reported a decrease in activity instead of an increase. That was the lowest figure since February 2001, weeks before the last downturn began. The Conference Board's index of leading indicators dropped 0.1 percent in January, matching December's decline...
Last month's drop in the Conference Board's index brings the decline for the last six months to 2 percent, which the Conference Board says can be one of the "reasonable criteria for a recession warning"...
The Labor Department reported today that the number of Americans remaining on unemployment benefit rolls climbed to the highest since October 2005 as faltering economic growth prompted companies to cut payrolls.
The number of people continuing to collect benefits rose to 2.784 million in the week ended Feb. 9, from 2.736 million a week earlier, the Labor Department said today in Washington. First-time jobless claims decreased by 9,000 to 349,000 in the week ended Feb. 16, from a revised 358,000 a week earlier.
It is not looking much better in Europe, as Bloomberg reports.
The European Commission cut its forecast for euro-area economic growth and predicted inflation will accelerate to the fastest pace since the single currency's debut, highlighting the dilemma facing the region's central bank.
Inflation will average 2.6 percent this year, the Brussels- based commission said today, increasing its previous estimate by 0.5 percentage point. The economy of the 15 nations that use the euro will expand 1.8 percent, it forecast, below the 2.2 percent predicted in November and the weakest since 2005.
Japan's economy, however, is once again being boosted by exports. Again from Bloomberg:
Japan's export growth unexpectedly quickened in January, as rising demand for cars and steel from China and Russia made up for falling U.S. sales.
Exports, the engine that drove almost half of the economy's expansion last quarter, rose 7.7 percent, from December's 6.9 percent gain, the Finance Ministry said today in Tokyo. The median estimate of 18 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for a 6.6 percent increase...
Imports climbed 9 percent from a year earlier on surging oil costs. Rising imports, combined with a New Year holiday that erased three business days for Japanese shippers, caused the trade deficit to widen to 79.3 billion yen.