Wednesday, 1 September 2010

US consumer confidence improves

Consumer confidence in the US improved in August. Bloomberg reports:

Consumer confidence climbed more than forecast in August as Americans turned less pessimistic about the outlook for jobs, easing concern households will retrench.

The Conference Board’s confidence index rose to 53.5 from a five-month low of 51 in July, according a report today from the New York-based research group...

Still, there were other signs of a slowing economy.

A report from the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc. showed its business barometer fell to 56.7 this month, the lowest since November, from 62.3 in July. Figures greater than 50 signal expansion...

Another report showed home prices in 20 U.S. cities rose more than forecast in June from a year earlier, reflecting the influence of a government tax incentive and a sign the market was stabilizing before sales plunged in July.

European data on Tuesday brought few surprises. From Bloomberg:

European inflation slowed this month and unemployment held at the highest in almost 12 years in July as companies continued to cut costs to help shore up earnings.

Euro-area consumer prices rose 1.6 percent from a year earlier after increasing 1.7 percent in July, the European Union statistics office in Luxembourg said today. The jobless rate held at 10 percent for a fifth month, according to a separate report. That’s the highest since August 1998.

There was some mixed data from the UK. Reuters reports:

The Bank of England reported that net mortgage lending fell to 86 million pounds in July from 518 million pounds in June -- a four-month low and a sharp contrast to the rise to 700 million that economists had expected...

Some 48,722 home purchase mortgages were approved in July -- better than last week's industry figures had suggested and up on June's 48,562 but well below the 59,117 recorded in November...

A relative bright spot was unsecured lending to consumers, which rose by 173 million pounds last month versus economists' forecasts for it to remain little changed on the month.

This followed a surprise strengthening in the monthly GfK/NOP consumer confidence survey released earlier on Tuesday, after households' pessimism about the economic outlook eased somewhat.

Meanwhile, the Canadian economy slowed sharply in the second quarter. Bloomberg reports:

Canada’s economy grew at a slower- than-projected 2 percent rate in the second quarter, almost one- third the pace of the January-March period, amid a widening trade gap and slower household and government spending.

Ottawa-based Statistics Canada also cut its estimate for first-quarter growth in gross domestic product to 5.8 percent from an initially reported 6.1 percent. Economists predicted a 2.5 percent expansion in the second quarter, and the growth rate was weaker than all 18 forecasts gathered by Bloomberg News.

In contrast, India saw its economy picking up even further in the same quarter. Reuters reports:

India's economy grew at its fastest pace in nearly three years in the April-June quarter on strong manufacturing growth and better farm output that may keep the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on its gradual monetary tightening path.

Tuesday's data showed annual rate of growth picked up to 8.8 percent from 8.6 percent in the previous quarter, underscoring continued growth momentum in Asia's third-largest economy amid a slowing pace of global recovery.

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