Saturday, 7 February 2009

More gloomy economic data to end the week

Bloomberg reports another big fall in US employment.

The jobless rate rose to 7.6 percent from 7.2 percent in December, the Labor Department said today in Washington. Payrolls fell by 598,000, the biggest monthly decline since December 1974. Losses spanned almost all industries, from construction and manufacturing to retailing, trucking, media and finance...

With revised declines of 577,000 for December and 597,000 for November, revisions subtracted 66,000 workers from previously reported figures for the last two months of 2008. The 3.57 million jobs lost since the recession started in December 2007 marks the biggest employment slump of any economic contraction in the postwar period.

This means consumer spending is likely to be hurt, especially as consumer credit is also shrinking. From Bloomberg:

Consumer credit fell by $6.6 billion, or 3.1 percent at an annual rate, to $2.56 trillion, according to a Federal Reserve report released today in Washington. In November, credit decreased by $11 billion, more than previously estimated and the biggest drop since records began in 1943.

North of the border, jobs are also being lost. From Bloomberg:

Canada lost a record number of jobs in January, pushing the unemployment rate to a four-year high of 7.2 percent, as companies struggle to cope with the country’s first recession since 1992.

Employers cut a net 129,000 workers, three times the loss forecast by economists, after a drop of 20,400 in December, Statistics Canada said today in Ottawa. It was the largest drop since the methodology for the survey was changed in 1976.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, industrial production is falling. Bloomberg reports the fall in German industrial output in December.

Output fell a seasonally adjusted 4.6 percent from November, the biggest decline since records for a reunified Germany began in January 1991, the Economy Ministry in Berlin said today. It was the fourth straight monthly drop and almost twice the 2.5 percent retreat forecast by economists in a Bloomberg survey.

Reuters reports that factories in the UK suffered the biggest slump in production in nearly 35 years at the end of last year.

The Office for National Statistics said industrial production fell 4.5 percent in the three months to December -- the biggest drop since 1974 when the government imposed a three-day working week because of energy shortages during the coal miners' strikes.

Production fell 1.7 percent on the month in December, leaving it 9.4 percent down on a year ago -- the largest annual decline since January 1981...

Manufacturing output dropped 2.2 percent on the month and 5.1 percent on the quarter -- matching the record low set in the first quarter of 1974.

Investors are looking past the gloomy data though. The S&P 500 rose 2.7 percent on Friday while the Stoxx 600 gained 2.1 percent.

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