Joined: Sep 2009
Consumer Sentiment Highest in a Year
I know at least one partisan hack on this site who aint happy. lol
NEW YORK | Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:45am EDT
(Reuters) - Consumer confidence rebounded to its highest level in 13 months at the end of March as optimism about jobs and income overcame higher prices at the gasoline pump, according to a survey released on Friday.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final March reading for the overall consumer sentiment index rose to 76.2, the highest since February 2011, from 75.3 in February.
The final March figure rose from a preliminary reading of 74.3 and was above economists' median forecasts of 74.7.
"Consumer confidence edged upward as more favorable income and job trends offset rising gas prices," survey director Richard Curtin said in a statement.
Consumer confidence is seen by some economists as a proxy for future consumer spending. Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of the U.S. economy.
Earlier Friday, the U.S. Commerce Department said personal spending rose by a bigger-than-expected 0.8 percent month over month in February, the largest monthly rise since July.
The University of Michigan surveys' barometer of current economic conditions ended at 86.0 in March, also the highest level since February 2011. This improved on the preliminary reading of 84.2 and February's 83.0. Analysts had predicted a reading of 84.5.
More families, at 34 percent in March, reported a better financial situation than anytime in the previous four years, and more consumers than ever before in the long history of the survey, 38 percent, reported hearing of improved job conditions, Curtin said.
Inflation worries, however, curbed hopes about an improving job market. "Expected increases in inflation held down more optimistic expectations as the majority anticipated declines in their inflation adjusted incomes," Curtin said.
The gauge of consumer expectations was 69.8 at the end of March, above the preliminary reading of 68.0 but below February's 70.3. Analysts had expected no change for the index from the preliminary figure.
An easing of gasoline prices in late March moderated the earlier spike in inflation worries, Curtin said, but he cautioned they could rise further if gasoline prices resume their increase.
"Gas prices of $4 are no longer shocking; if they approached $5, the impact would be widespread and substantial," he said, adding $5 a gallon gasoline could hurt car sales.
The survey's one-year inflation expectation dipped to 3.9 percent from 4.0 percent in early March. It still ended the month at its highest level since last May and up from 3.3 percent in February.
The survey's five-to-10-year inflation outlook held steady at 3.0 percent versus early March. It was up from 2.9 percent in February.
Joined: Jan 2009
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
"I know at least one partisan hack on this site who aint happy. lol"
Who? Only you and I post here and I don't belong to any political party. No script. Strictly issues. On the other hand, you are 100% partisan. So why would you speak of yourself in that fashion?
Joined: Sep 2009
This is obviously upsetting to those who hate President Obama. Clearly they are
hoping for a bad economy.
Stocks rise on increased consumer spending; market heads for best start since 1998
By Associated Press, Updated: Friday, March 30, 4:35 PM
Rising consumer spending boosted stocks on Friday, and Wall Street closed its best first quarter since 1998.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 66.22 points to close at 13,212.04. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 5.19 points to close at 1,408.47. The Nasdaq composite barely moved, falling 3.79 points to close at 3,091.51
For the quarter, the Dow posted an 8 percent gain and the S&P a 12 percent gain, the best for those indexes in 14 years. The gain was 19 percent for the Nasdaq, its best since 1991.
The Commerce Department said consumer spending rose in February at the fastest rate in seven months. Strong hiring over the past three months has added up to the best jobs growth in two years, putting more people back to work.
Americans spent more even though their income has stagnated for two months after taxes and inflation. Some of the increased spending has gone to gasoline, which is the most expensive on record for this time of year. Oil prices rose again on Friday, up 23 cents in New York to $103.02 per barrel.
Nine out of 10 industry groups in the S&P 500 rose. The biggest-gaining category was energy stocks, although refiners fell because of the higher oil prices. Health care stocks rose, too, with two of the biggest gainers being health insurers UnitedHealth Group Inc. and WellPoint Inc. Technology stocks fell slightly.
Some of the buying could be driven by end-of-the-quarter efforts by fund managers to get into stocks now that they have become popular again, said Jim Russell, a regional investment director for US Bank Wealth Management. And individual investors who have been relying on bonds appear to be getting back into the market, too, he said.
“We are very heartened to see the retail investor stop playing one key on the piano — that is, all bonds, all the time,” he said.
Apple fell 1.7 percent after a company that makes its iPhones and iPads said it would effectively raise per-hour wages at its factories in China, suggesting that manufacturing prices could rise.
Shares of BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. rose 6.6 percent a day after the Canadian company said it would return to focusing on corporate customers and shake up its management to try to get profits growing again.
Corn prices surged 6.6 percent on news that suppliers are tighter than previously thought. Higher corn plus higher oil prices points toward higher food prices. Grocer stocks fell: Supervalu Inc. was down 3.7 percent, and Safeway Inc. fell 1.3 percent.
Best Buy closed down 4.4 percent as investors continued to digest its plan to cut stores and staff as it shifts toward smaller stores in an effort to compete with online retailers. Best Buy stock lost almost 7 percent on Thursday.
Sports apparel maker Finish Line Inc. fell 16 percent after it predicted a lower-than-expected first-quarter profit.
European markets bounced back after a rocky week that included a national strike in Spain. On Friday, the country unveiled a draft 2012 budget that seeks to cut the deficit by $36 billion through spending cuts and a tax hike on large companies. But Spain also plans to cut government ministry spending by an average of nearly 17 percent.
Germany’s DAX closed up 1 percent at 6,947, while the CAC-40 in France rose 1.3 percent to 3,424. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.5 percent to 5,768. The euro rose half a penny against the dollar, to $1.3334.
Asian markets took a hit after some poor factory production numbers from Japan.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose to 2.22 percent from 2.16 percent late Thursday. Treasury yields have risen two months in a row as investors feel more comfortable moving out of bonds and into riskier assets like stocks.
Last edited by Havakasha; 03-31-2012 at 12:52 PM.