Tuesday, 21 April 2009

US and Japanese leading indices decline

Fed chairman Ben Bernanke may have seen "green shoots" of recovery but the Conference Board's US leading index indicates that a recovery is still some way off. From Bloomberg:

The index of U.S. leading economic indicators fell more than forecast in March, signaling what may be the longest recession in the postwar era will extend into the second half of the year.

The Conference Board’s gauge, which points to the direction of the economy over the next three to six months, fell 0.3 percent after a 0.2 percent drop in February. The gauge hasn’t risen since June.

The recent rally in stock prices could help boost April's number, although yesterday's market casts doubt whether that rally can be sustained.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 4.3 percent to close at 832.39. Treasuries climbed, sending benchmark 10-year note yields down to 2.84 percent at 4:14 p.m. in New York from 2.95 percent at the close last week...

A report today from Bank of America, the largest U.S. bank by assets, took some of the shine off the rebound in equities that began in mid March. The Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank said first-quarter profit more than tripled on gains from home refinancing and trading. Still, the stock dropped as rising charge-offs for uncollectible loans overshadowed the earnings.

An earlier report from Japan also left its recovery hopes in doubt. The Economic and Social Research Institute reported that the final number for Japan's leading index in February was 75.0, revised down from 75.2 in a preliminary estimate. In January, the index stood at 76.7.

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