Saturday, 11 July 2009

US consumer confidence falls but other indicators show improvement

US consumer confidence has fallen. Bloomberg reports:

The Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment decreased to 64.6, the lowest since March, from 70.8 in June...

A gauge of current conditions, which reflects Americans’ perceptions of their financial situation and whether it is a good time to buy big-ticket items like cars, fell to 70.4 from 73.2.

The index of consumer expectations for six months from now, which more closely projects the direction of consumer spending, plunged to 60.9, the biggest drop since October, from 69.2.

Apart from that, the reports on Friday mostly indicated continuing improvement in the global economy.

For example, the US trade deficit declined in May. Bloomberg reports:

The U.S. trade deficit unexpectedly narrowed in May to the lowest level in almost a decade as exports jumped while imports of crude oil and auto parts declined.

The gap between imports and exports decreased 9.8 percent to $26 billion, the smallest deficit since November 1999, from a revised $28.8 billion in April that was lower than previously estimated, the Commerce Department said today in Washington...

Exports rose 1.6 percent, the biggest increase since July 2008, to $123.3 billion, as sales of petroleum products, chemicals and industrial machinery increased...

Imports fell 0.6 percent to $149.3 billion after decreasing the prior month. The import figures were held down by a decline in purchases of foreign crude oil to $12.9 billion from $13.8 billion, reflecting lower demand for petroleum even as prices rose...

China's exports also appear to have turned around. From Bloomberg:

China’s exports fell for an eighth month as the global recession cut demand, highlighting the economy’s dependence on stimulus spending to revive growth.

Overseas sales slid 21.4 percent in June from a year earlier, the customs bureau said today on its Web site, after a record 26.4 percent drop in May.

Imports fell a less-than-estimated 13.2 percent, the smallest decline in eight months, signaling that the worst may almost be over for the nation’s trade...

Exports gained a seasonally adjusted 4.5 percent from May and imports rose 2.2 percent, the customs bureau said.

As have China's property prices. From AFP/CNA:

China's urban property prices rose on year for the first time in six months in June, official data showed Friday, in a sign the sector is recovering thanks to government stimulus support.

Property prices in 70 major cities increased by 0.2 percent year-on-year, the National Development and Reform Commission and the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement, following a 0.6-percent fall in May.

Economic data from Europe were also encouraging. From Bloomberg:

French industrial production unexpectedly increased for the first time in nine months in May, adding to signs that Europe is starting to pull out of its worst recession since World War II.

Output at factories and utilities climbed 2.6 percent from April, Paris-based statistics office Insee said today. A separate report showed Italian output was unchanged in May. Economists had forecast that production would drop 0.2 percent in France and 1.1 percent in Italy, according to surveys of economists by Bloomberg News.

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