Thursday, 26 March 2009

US durable goods orders and new home sales rise

James Hamilton asks: Is the worst behind us? Data released on Wednesday provide hints that maybe it is.

Bloombertg reports Wednesday US economic reports.

Orders for durable goods and sales of new homes unexpectedly rose in February, reports today showed, a sign of improvement in two of the biggest drags on the U.S. economy.

Last month’s 3.4 percent increase in bookings for long- lasting goods such as machinery and computers was the biggest gain in more than a year and the first in seven months, Commerce Department figures showed in Washington. Another Commerce report indicated new-home sales jumped 4.7 percent from a record low pace in January.

And it may not be just in the US that the worst is over. From Bloomberg on Tuesday:

Europe’s manufacturing and service industries contracted for a 10th month in March...

A composite index of both industries was at 37.6 compared with a record low of 36.2 in February...

The euro area’s manufacturing index rose to 34 this month from 33.5 in February, while the services index rose to 40.1 from 39.1, Markit said. The composite index of new orders rose from a record low last month, while the employment measure fell to 40.3 from 40.8.

Meanwhile though, Bloomberg reports that German business confidence fell in March.

German business confidence fell to the lowest level in more than 26 years in March, adding to signs that the recession is deepening.

The Ifo institute in Munich said its business climate index, based on a survey of 7,000 executives, dropped to 82.1 from 82.6 in February. That’s the worst reading since November 1982. Economists expected a decline to 82.2, according to the median of 37 forecasts in a News survey.

But even here, there is a silver lining.

Ifo’s gauge of current conditions declined to 82.7 from 84.3. Still, the measure of expectations increased to 81.6 from 80.9.

Looking grimmer perhaps was Japan's February trade report as exports plunged 49.4 percent in February from a year earlier. But yet again, there was something positive out of the report: the trade balance moved back into surplus, albeit one down 91.2 percent from a year earlier.

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