Friday, 26 February 2010

Mixed data from the US, economic sentiment falls in the euro area

Thursday's economic data from the US were mixed. Bloomberg reports:

Companies scaled back orders for equipment in January and filings for jobless benefits rose, the latest figures in a series of reports this week that show the U.S. economy is recovering in fits and starts.

Orders for durable goods excluding transportation unexpectedly fell 0.6 percent, the most since August, while a measure of bookings for business equipment showed its biggest decrease in nine months, the Commerce Department in Washington said...

Bookings for all goods meant to last several years rose 3 percent, more than anticipated and reflecting a jump in commercial aircraft. They were forecast to rise 1.5 percent, according to the survey.

The number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits rose 22,000 in the week ended Feb. 20 to 496,000, Labor Department figures in Washington showed. Economists forecast claims would fall to 460,000, according the median in a Bloomberg survey...

The Federal Housing Finance Agency said in a separate report today that home prices fell 1.6 percent in December after a 0.4 percent gain a month earlier. Prices dropped 1.2 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, the smallest decline in two years, as a tax credit for homebuyers boosted demand.

Meanwhile, the economic recovery in Europe appears to be stalling. Again from Bloomberg:

European confidence in the economic outlook unexpectedly worsened in February after the euro region’s recovery almost stalled in the fourth quarter.

An index of executive and consumer sentiment in the 16 nations using the euro slipped to 95.9 from a revised 96 in January, the European Commission in Brussels said today. The economic recovery may fail to gather strength for most of 2010, the commission said in a separate report.

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