Saturday, 6 August 2005

Strong US jobs growth and other good economic data

The US Labor Department report on non-farm employment showed that the economy added 207,000 in July while the unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.0 percent. In addition, revisions added 42,000 to the job growth figures for May and June, which were revised to 126,000 and 166,000 respectively.

Barry Ritholtz gives his take on the numbers here -- "It points to an ongoing improving economy, and continued Fed hikes" -- and gives economists' reactions here.

Reuters also has reactions to the report:

"This is a crystal clear indication that the labor markets are very healthy and it reinforces the notion that the economy is growing in a healthy, sustainable way," said Dana Johnson, chief economist at Comerica in Detroit...

"The Fed is going to keep chugging along," said Robert MacIntosh, chief economist at Eaton Vance Management in Boston...

"As far as the Fed is concerned, payrolls growth is probably just about right -- not too hot and not too cold," Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics told clients in a research note.

It also highlighted the following details:

The factory sector, which shed 4,000 workers last month, was one of the only weak spots. However, the Labor Department noted that an 11,000-job drop in auto manufacturing reflected larger-than-normal temporary plant shutdowns for retooling...

Average hourly earnings shot up six cents, or 0.4 percent, in July -- the biggest rise in a year. However, earnings are up just 2.7 percent over the past 12 months, suggesting wages have yet to become a big inflationary concern...

Job growth was tepid at construction firms, which brought on just 7,000 new workers, but was strong on the service side of the economy.

Retailers added 50,000 workers, the biggest gain in that sector since April 2000. The strong retail hiring in part reflected growth at automobile dealers coping with a surge of shoppers enticed by special sales incentives.

Professional and business service firms, education and health service employers and the leisure and hospitality industry all exhibited robust hiring.

The Reuters report also carried other economic news for the day.

A Fed report issued later on Friday showed U.S. consumer credit rose an unexpectedly large $14.51 billion in June, the biggest jump in eight months, as both credit card use and closed-end lending surged...

In another spot of bright economic news, the independent Economic Cycle Research Institute said on Friday its leading index of the U.S. economy rose to a 12-week high last week. ECRI said the index suggested prospects for U.S. economic growth were improving gradually.

There was also good news yesterday out of Japan, where the index of leading economic indicators climbed to 60 percent in June from 36.4 percent in May, Germany, where industrial production increased 1.4 percent in June from May, and the UK, where manufacturing production rose 0.2 percent in June, although UK house price growth decelerated in July.

To top all these off, the OECD reported that its composite leading indicators show improved performance, with the index rising to 103.6 in June from 103.0 in May and the six-month rate of change rising in each of the Group of seven major economies except Italy.

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