Tuesday, 17 November 2009

US retail sales rebound in October

US retail sales are holding up. From Bloomberg:

Retail sales in the U.S. rebounded more than forecast as demand for autos climbed, and a regional gauge of manufacturing showed expansion for a fourth month, easing concern the recovery will cool after government incentives end.

Purchases increased 1.4 percent in October after a 2.3 percent drop in September that was larger than the previously estimated, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s general economic index, where positive readings signal growth, fell to 23.5 this month from a five-year high of 34.6 in October...

A Commerce Department report today also showed inventories at U.S. businesses fell in September to the lowest level in almost four years, signaling orders will rise in coming months as spending picks up.

However, the data will not be enough to remove doubts about the strength of the recovery.

“Significant economic challenges remain,” [Fed Chairman Ben] Bernanke said in a speech to the Economic Club of New York. “The flow of credit remains constrained, economic activity weak, and unemployment much too high. Future setbacks are possible.”

Certainly, it hasn't removed doubts from Meredith Whitney. From CNBC:

Stocks are overvalued and the US economy is likely to fall back into a recession next year, well-known analyst Meredith Whitney told CNBC...

The US consumer was going through the biggest credit contraction ever—even bigger than that during the Great Depression. "That credit contraction is accelerating," she said. "There's nowhere to hide at this point"...

The residential real estate market is likely to worsen and remains a much bigger threat than the commercial property market. The government's mortgage modification program won't result in any major improvement in homeowners' ability to stay above water, she added.

Still, the economic recovery so far means that global deflationary pressure has eased. Again from Bloomberg:

European consumer prices declined for a fifth month in October as rising unemployment discouraged household spending.

Prices in the 16-nation euro region declined 0.1 percent from a year earlier after falling 0.3 percent in September, the European Union statistics office in Luxembourg said today. That matched an initial estimate published on Oct. 30 and the median forecast of 35 economists in a Bloomberg survey. In the month, consumer prices rose 0.2 percent.

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