Monday's data show that the US consumer continued to be a major driver of the economy at the end of last year. From Bloomberg:
Consumer spending in the U.S. rose more than forecast in December, giving the world’s largest economy a lift heading into 2011.
Purchases, which account for about 70 percent of the economy, increased 0.7 percent after climbing 0.3 percent the prior month, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington...
The Commerce Department’s report also showed incomes increased 0.4 percent for a second month, matching the median forecast in the Bloomberg survey...
Today’s report also showed inflation slowed further below the central bank’s long-term forecast. The Fed’s preferred price index, which is tied to spending patterns and excludes food and fuel, increased 0.7 percent from December 2009, the smallest advance since records began in 1959.
Other reports suggest that the economy is continuing to improve.
The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc. said today its business barometer rose this month to 68.8, the highest level since 1988. Figures greater than 50 signal expansion, and economists projected the gauge would slip to 64.5, based on the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey...
Also today, results of a Fed survey of senior loan officers showed most banks expect fewer loans will become delinquent in 2011 and charge-off rates will improve. The poll also found that lending rules eased and demand for business credit increased in the fourth quarter from the previous three months.
Reuters reports positive data for Japan and South Korea as well.
Industrial output in Japan and South Korea jumped more than expected in December in a sign that a draw down of inventories and a rebound in export demand will help to underpin recovery in the global economy this year...
Japan's industrial output rose 3.1 percent in December, more than a median market forecast for a 2.9 percent increase, on strong overseas demand for cars and electronic parts, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said on Monday.
Manufacturers surveyed by the ministry expect output to rise 5.7 percent in January and decline 1.2 percent in February...
South Korea's seasonally adjusted reading in the industrial output index rose 2.8 percent in December, compared with the median forecast for a 2.0 percent gain in a Reuters poll and following a revised 1.5 percent rise in November.
The improvement in Japan is also reflected in the Nomura/JMMA manufacturing PMI rising to a six-month high of 51.4 in January from 48.3 in December.
With good growth comes inflation concerns for those not willing to ignore commodities. Bloomberg reports the latest inflation rate for the euro area:
European inflation accelerated more than economists forecast in January, keeping pressure on policy makers to monitor price gains that are exceeding the European Central Bank’s limit.
Inflation in the euro region quickened to 2.4 percent from 2.2 percent in December, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said today in a preliminary estimate without providing a breakdown. That’s the fastest since October 2008 and exceeded the 2.3 percent median estimate of 37 economists in a Bloomberg News survey.