US economic data over the past two days have been mixed.
From Bloomberg on Tuesday:
The index of signed purchase agreements, or pending home sales, dropped 16 percent as Americans waited for a first-time buyer tax credit to be extended, the National Association of Realtors said today in Washington. Factory orders rose 1.1 percent, more than twice as much as projected, according to figures from the Commerce Department.
And from Bloomberg on Wednesday:
The Institute for Supply Management’s index of non- manufacturing businesses that make up almost 90 percent of the economy rose to 50.1 from 48.7 in November, according to the Tempe, Arizona-based group...
Figures from ADP Employer Services showed companies cut an estimated 84,000 jobs in December, the fewest since March 2008. The decline last month was larger than the 75,000 decrease forecast by economists in a Bloomberg survey.
Planned payroll reductions dropped 73 percent in December from a year earlier, according to another report from the job placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.
Reports from the euro area on Wednesday were also mixed. From Bloomberg:
Factory-gate prices in the euro region declined 4.4 percent from a year earlier in November after decreasing 6.6 percent in October, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said today. Orders to industrial companies fell 2.2 percent in October from September, a separate report showed. That was the biggest drop since January 2009. In the year, new orders fell 14.5 percent.
But other data reported by Bloomberg were more positive.
A composite index based on a survey of purchasing managers in both industries in the 16-nation euro region increased to 54.2 from 53.7 in November, London-based Markit Economics said today. That matched an initial estimate published on Dec. 16 and the highest since October 2007. A reading above 50 indicates expansion...
An index of services rose to 53.6 in December from 53 in the previous month, Markit said. That was the highest since November 2007. A gauge of euro-area manufacturing increased to 51.6 from 51.2 in the previous month.
Reuters reports that UK service activity also improved in December.
Service sector activity accelerated slightly in December after the strongest growth in new orders since September 2007, boosting economists' belief that the economy exited recession in the last quarter of 2009...
CIPS/Markit said the business activity index rose to 56.8 from November's 56.6, slightly above economists' forecasts and just below October's 27-month high of 56.9.
But UK consumer confidence fell sharply. Again from Reuters:
Consumer confidence suffered its sharpest fall in over a year in December, a survey showed on Wednesday, even as separate figures showed both job placements and wages rose last month.
The Nationwide Building Society's consumer confidence index fell to 69 from an upwardly revised 74 in November, after respondents sharply scaled back their expectations for the coming year...
Separate figures showed permanent job placements in Britain grew at their fastest pace in nearly two and a half years in December while salaries rose for the second month running.
The REC/KPMG index of permanent placements by recruitment agencies rose to 62.8 in December from 61.7 in November - the fifth consecutive month it has been above the 50 level that separates growth from contraction and the highest since July 2007.