Friday, 24 December 2010

US consumer spending rises, Portugal and Hungary's ratings cut

US economic data on Thursday were mostly positive. Bloomberg reports:

Americans increased spending in November for a fifth straight month and companies stepped up orders for equipment, more evidence the U.S. economy is gaining momentum heading into 2011.

Household purchases rose 0.4 percent after a 0.7 percent increase in October that was almost twice as large as previously estimated, figures from the Commerce Department showed today in Washington. The agency also reported a 2.6 percent gain in bookings for capital goods like computers and electronics...

First-time filings for jobless insurance declined by 3,000 to 420,000 in the week ended Dec. 18, matching the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey, according to Labor Department figures released today.

Another report today showed a measure of consumer confidence climbed to a six-month high in December. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment rose to 74.5, matching the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey, from 71.6 in November. The preliminary December reading was 74.2...

Housing remains a weak spot for the economy as an overhang of unsold properties weighs on the market. Purchases of existing homes increased 5.5 percent to a 290,000 annual rate from a 275,000 pace in October that was slower than previously estimated, the Commerce Department said today. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected a 300,000 pace...

Inflation remained below the Fed’s comfort zone. The central bank’s preferred price measure, which excludes food and fuel, rose 0.1 percent from the prior month and was up 0.8 percent from a year earlier, matching October’s 12-month gain as the smallest on record...

Today’s durable goods report from the Commerce Department showed that total orders dropped 1.3 percent, depressed by volatile demand for aircraft, and bookings excluding transportation equipment rose more than forecast.

Meanwhile, however, Europe continues to be a source of sovereign debt concerns.

Bloomberg reports that Portugal's debt rating has been downgraded by Fitch.

Portugal’s debt rating was downgraded one level by Fitch Ratings, which cited concern about the “financing environment” for the government and the country’s banks, as well as the economy’s outlook.

The long-term foreign and local currency issuer default rating was lowered to A+, the fifth-highest level, from AA-, Fitch said in a statement today. The outlook is negative. Fitch on March 24 cut the rating by one step to AA-.

So has Hungary's.

Hungary had its credit rating cut to the lowest investment grade by Fitch Ratings, which joined Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s in questioning the sustainability of the new Cabinet’s fiscal policy.

Fitch downgraded Hungary one step to BBB-, the company said in a statement from London. The outlook for all three ratings companies is negative, which means they are more likely to reduce the rating to junk than to raise it or keep it unchanged.

No comments:

Post a comment