Friday, 17 December 2010

US and eurozone economies report positive data

Reuters reported better data for the US economy on Thursday.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 3,000 to 420,000, the Labor Department said, in line with forecasts and a recent downward trend. The closely watched four-week moving average of claims dropped for a sixth straight week to a fresh two-year low.

In a separate report, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said its business activity index rose to 24.3, the highest level since April 2005, from 22.5 in November. Economists had expected a reading of 15.0. Any reading above zero indicates expansion in the region's manufacturing output...

In another report on Thursday, the Commerce Department said housing starts rose 3.9 percent to an annual rate of 555,000 units in November. However, permits for future home construction dropped to a 1-1/2-year low.

Eurozone data on Thursday were also positive on the whole. Again from Reuters:

Europe's two-speed recovery is becoming more entrenched, with Germany's private sector powering ahead and France making headway while the rest of the euro zone is close to running out of steam, surveys showed on Thursday...

Markit's Eurozone Flash Services Purchasing Managers' Index, made up of surveys of around 2,000 businesses ranging from banks to restaurants, slumped to 53.7 in December from November's 55.4...

The flash manufacturing index rose to its highest level since April at 56.8 in December from 55.3 in November, confounding forecasts for a fall to 55.2, while the output index bounced to 57.8 this month from 55.8 in November...

The euro zone composite index, compiled from the services and manufacturing sectors and often used to predict overall growth, dropped to 55.0 this month from 55.5 in November, missing expectations for 55.4.

The reports from the UK were mixed though, with retail sales growing 0.3 percent in November and pushing the annual growth rate to 1.1 percent, the strongest since July, but the Nationwide consumer confidence index falling 7 points to 45 in November, its fourth consecutive fall and the lowest since March 2009.

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