Saturday, 1 August 2009

US economy shrinks less than expected

Friday's GDP report shows that the US economy is stabilising. Bloomberg reports:

The worst U.S. economic slump since the Great Depression abated in the second quarter as government spending programs started to kick in, while the deepest retrenchment by consumers since 1980 augured a muted recovery.

Gross domestic product shrank at a better-than-forecast 1 percent annual pace after a 6.4 percent drop the prior three months, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington...

There are other signs that the recession is abating.

[T]he Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc. today said its business barometer increased to 43.4, the highest level since September, from 39.9 in June. Readings below 50 signal a contraction.

Elsewhere, the Canadian economy shrank 0.5 percent in May while eurozone unemployment rose to 9.4 percent in June, the highest since 1999, as consumer prices dropped 0.6 percent from a year earlier, the most since the data were first compiled in 1996.

Rising unemployment and falling consumer prices are also being seen in Japan. AFP/CNA reports:

Japan's jobless rate hit a six-year high of 5.4 per cent in June...

The number of people out of work in June increased by 830,000, or 31.3 per cent, from a year earlier to 3.48 million, lifting the jobless rate by 0.2 points from May when it stood at 5.2 per cent, the government said.

There were only 43 job offers for every 100 job seekers, a record low and down from 44 the previous month.

Despite the worsening jobs market, Japanese household spending edged up 0.2 per cent in June from a year earlier, adjusted for price changes.

Deflation deepened with core consumer prices falling a record 1.7 per cent in June from a year ago.

Core prices, which exclude those of volatile fresh food, fell for the fourth straight month after a 1.1 per cent drop in May.

In contrast, China's economy appears to have ridden out the global recession well, with 13 of 27 provincial-level regions that have released their first-half economic statistics reporting double-digit growth.

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