US consumer confidence fell in May. Reuters reports:
The Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer confidence certainly highlighted the threat to economic growth, dropping to 59.5 in May -- the lowest level since June 1980...
Meanwhile, the Michigan report's gauge of one-year inflation expectations surged to 5.2 percent -- the highest since February 1982 -- from 4.8 percent in April.
Also worrying for policy-makers at the Federal Reserve, five-year inflation expectations were the highest since August 1996, edging up to 3.3 percent from April's 3.2 percent.
But housing data released yesterday were mixed.
... [S]tarts on new U.S. homes rose by a surprisingly strong 8.2 percent in April, the biggest monthly increase in more than two years. The bounce, however, came entirely from multiple-unit dwellings such as apartments and condominiums.
Applications for new building permits also turned up for the first time in five months, presenting another rare bit of good news for the beleaguered U.S. housing market, the original source of the economy's current troubles.
In a sign that housing's woes were not yet over, groundbreaking on single-family homes in the United States dropped to the slowest pace since 1991.
Still, the ECRI's leading index continues to give hopeful signs. Reuters reports:
The Economic Cycle Research Institute...said its Weekly Leading Index slipped to 133.5 in the week to May 9 from 133.6 in the prior period, revised from 133.5...
The index's annualized growth rate improved to negative 7.2 percent from minus 8.0 percent, its highest since the week to March 28, according to ECRI data.