Friday, 14 August 2009

US retail sales fall, eurozone economy shrinks less than expected

The US economy may be stabilising but retail sales in July suggest that the recovery hasn't gained much steam yet. From Bloomberg:

Sales at U.S. retailers unexpectedly fell in July, raising the risk that a lack of consumer spending will temper a recovery from the worst recession since the 1930s.

Purchases decreased 0.1 percent, the first drop in three months, as shrinking demand at department stores such as Macy’s Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. overshadowed a boost from the cash-for-clunkers automobile incentive program, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington...

Excluding automobiles, sales fell 0.6 percent, also worse than anticipated and the biggest drop since March...

Excluding autos, gasoline and building materials ... sales dropped 0.2 percent after no change in June...

And while jobless claims are off their peak, they remain high.

The Labor Department said today that 558,000 people filed first-time claims for jobless benefits last week, up from 554,000 the week before.

While US economic data disappointed, Europe provided better-than-expected data. Again from Bloomberg:

The euro-region economy barely contracted in the second quarter as Germany and France unexpectedly returned to growth, suggesting Europe’s worst recession since World War II is coming to an end.

Gross domestic product fell 0.1 percent from the first quarter, when it plunged 2.5 percent, the most since the euro- area data were first compiled in 1995, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said today. Economists had estimated GDP declined 0.5 percent in the three months through June, the median of 32 forecasts in a Bloomberg survey showed.

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