Friday, 22 October 2010

US leading index rises, euro area sees slower growth

Thursday's data on the US economy were fairly positive. Bloomberg reports:

The gauge of the U.S. economy’s prospects rose in September for a third month, signaling the recovery will extend into 2011.

The New York-based Conference Board’s index of leading economic indicators climbed 0.3 percent, matching the median forecast of 57 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. The number of claims for jobless benefits last week was consistent with little progress in the labor market, another report showed...

Another showed manufacturing in the region covered by the Philadelphia Fed expanded this month for the first time since July as factory payrolls grew. Its general economic index rose to 1 from minus 0.7 in September, the branch of the central bank said. Figures greater than zero signal growth.

Claims for unemployment insurance benefits declined by 23,000 to 452,000 in the week ended Oct. 15, Labor Department figures showed today. The prior week’s figures were revised up by 13,000, to the highest level since late August.

The euro area also continued to grow in October, albeit at a slower rate. From Bloomberg:

Europe’s services and manufacturing industries expanded at the weakest pace in a year in October, suggesting a global slowdown and the rising euro are starting to undermine the region’s recovery.

A composite index based on a survey of euro-area purchasing managers in both industries fell to 53.4 from 54.1 in September, London-based Markit Economics said today. Economists forecast a drop to 53.7, the median of 12 estimates in a Bloomberg survey shows. A reading above 50 indicates expansion...

The region’s services index fell to 53.2 in October from 54.1 the previous month, Markit said. That’s the lowest in eight months. The manufacturing gauge rose to 54.1 from 53.7, while an indicator of manufacturing output slipped to a 13-month low.

Meanwhile, consumer confidence in the euro area remained unchanged. Again from Bloomberg:

European consumer confidence remained unchanged in October as the region’s economic recovery showed signs of losing momentum.

An index of consumer sentiment in the 16-nation euro area held at minus 11, the same as in September, the Brussels-based European Commission said today in an initial estimate. That’s in line with the median forecast of 18 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey and the highest since December 2007.

Retail sales, though, declined in the UK in September. Reuters reports:

Retail sales fell for the second month in a row in September, reinforcing evidence of an economic slowdown as consumers steel themselves for savage cuts in government spending and tax rises...

The Office for National Statistics said retail sales volumes fell 0.2 percent in September, confounding expectations for a rise of 0.4 percent. Clothing sales suffered from the sharpest sector inflation since 1994 and petrol sales were also weak.

In contrast, Asia remains on track for strong economic growth, according to the IMF. From Channel NewsAsia:

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said strong growth in Asia continues to lead the global economic recovery.

In its latest Regional Economic Outlook for Asia and The Pacific, the IMF revised upwards its 2010 growth forecast for the region to 8 per cent - nearly 1 percentage point higher than its April estimate.

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