Saturday, 16 October 2010

US retail sales rise, Bernanke sees case for further action

US retail sales continued to recover in September. Bloomberg reports:

Retail sales in the U.S. climbed more than forecast in September, easing concern that unemployment stuck near a 26-year high will bring the recovery to a halt.

Purchases rose 0.6 percent following a 0.7 percent gain in August that was larger than previously estimated, according to Commerce Department data issued today in Washington...

Consumer prices rose 0.1 percent in September, less than forecast, figures from the Labor Department showed. Core prices, which exclude food and fuel costs, were little changed to cap a 0.8 percent increase in the past 12 months, the smallest year- over-year gain since 1961...

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment reported today decreased to 67.9, the lowest since July, from 68.2 in September...

A report from the Fed Bank of New York showed manufacturing in the region accelerated. Its general economic index rose to 15.7 in October, the highest level in four months and more than twice the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg...

The somewhat positive tone of Friday's data notwithstanding, the Fed looks set for further monetary action soon. From Reuters:

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Friday offered his most explicit signal yet that the U.S. central bank was set to ease monetary policy further, but provided no details on how aggressively it might act.

Bernanke warned a prolonged period of high unemployment could choke off the U.S. recovery and that the low level of inflation presented an uncomfortable risk of deflation, a dangerous downward slide in prices.

"There would appear -- all else being equal -- to be a case for further action," Bernanke said at a conference sponsored by the Boston Federal Reserve Bank.

Friday's economic data from the euro area were also relatively positive. Bloomberg reports:

European exports increased in August, suggesting the euro-region economy is weathering a global slowdown and a stronger euro.

Exports from the economy of the 16 nations that use the single currency rose a seasonally adjusted 1 percent from July, when they slipped 0.2 percent, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said today. Inflation accelerated to 1.8 percent in September from 1.6 percent in the previous month, it said in a separate statement. That’s the highest since November 2008 and in line with an initial estimate on Sept. 30.

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