Thursday, 16 April 2009

US consumer prices and industrial production fall

Economic weakness means there is little inflationary pressure in the US right now. Bloomberg reports Wednesday's US economic data.

The consumer price index fell 0.4 percent in March from a year before, and 0.1 percent from the previous month, the Labor Department said in Washington. Output at factories, mines and utilities dropped 1.5 percent last month, when the share of industrial capacity in use slid to 69.3 percent, the Fed said.

But other reports show that conditions may already be stabilising.

A Fed survey today also showed that manufacturing in the New York area contracted in April less than forecast, an indication some businesses have adjusted to the economy’s lower level of demand, analysts said. The Fed Bank of New York’s general economic index rose to minus 14.7 from minus 38.2 the prior month, when the so-called Empire State index reached its lowest level since data began in 2001...

The U.S. contraction slowed across several of the Fed’s biggest regions last month, with some industries “stabilizing at a low level,” the central bank said in a separate report today. Retail sales showed a “slight improvement” in some regions, and there was a “scattered pickup” in home buying, the report said.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo index of builder confidence rose to 14 from 9 the prior month, the biggest gain since May 2003, figures from Washington-based NAHB showed today. Low lending rates and government efforts may be putting a floor on the housing market’s slump. Still, readings below 50 mean most respondents view conditions as poor.

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