Friday, 20 May 2011

Data show struggling US economy

US data on Thursday looked weak. Bloomberg reports:

Sales of existing U.S. homes unexpectedly declined, manufacturing in the Philadelphia region slowed and consumer confidence dropped, pointing to an economy that is struggling to regain momentum following the surge in energy costs.

Purchases of existing homes decreased 0.8 percent to a 5.05 million annual pace in April, the National Association of Realtors said today in Washington...

Manufacturers, facing a less pressing need to rebuild inventories and supply disruptions following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, may also be slowing down. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s general economic index fell to 3.9, the weakest reading since October, from 18.5 a month earlier...

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index declined to minus 49.4 in the period to May 15, the worst reading since August, from the prior week’s minus 46.9. A gauge of personal finances plunged to the weakest level since October 2009, and a monthly measure of economic expectations held at a seven-month low...

The Conference Board’s index of leading indicators, a gauge of the outlook for the next three to six months, fell 0.3 percent in April, the first drop in 10 months, the New York- based group said. The measure was depressed by a pickup in jobless claims that reflected temporary setbacks including auto- plant shutdowns caused by the disaster in Japan.

On a more positive note, the unemployment picture brightened a little.

Another report today showed fewer Americans than forecast filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week. Applications declined by 29,000 to 409,000, according to figures from the Labor Department. Economists projected 420,000, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey.

UK data on Thursday were positive. From Reuters:

The Royal wedding holiday and record warm weather encouraged shoppers to splash out in April, giving hard hit retailers a one-off boost but doing little to change the picture of a fragile economic recovery...

The Office for National Statistics said sales volumes including automotive fuel rose 1.1 percent last month, well above analysts' forecasts for an increase of 0.8 percent, and the biggest rise for a month of April since 2002...

There was some good news from a CBI survey that showed an improvement in factory orders in May. But firms expected output growth to weaken in the coming months, and separate data showed car output fell more than 12 percent last month.

No comments:

Post a comment