Friday, July 31, 2009

Quick Notes for the Day - July 31

2nd Quarter GDP Falls Better Than Expected 1% - The Commerce Department reported the second quarter preliminary GDP this morning. According to the report, economy contracted at a much smaller rate than in the past six months. Real GDP fell at a 1.0% annualized rate in the second quarter, compared with an average 5.9% drop over the past two quarters. The good news was a reported much smaller decrease in business investment, exports and inventories. There was also an upturn in federal and state government spending. **** Note - This was the fourth straight quarter with a contraction in GDP - the first time since records started being kept in 1947.

Employment Costs Grow at Record Slow Pace - The Labor Department reported on Friday that the cost to employers for workers has risen at a record slow pace. This means that employers have kept compensation costs down (thus helps to control reduced inflation). The employment cost index rose 0.4% for all civilian workers in the second quarter, slightly more than the 0.3% in the first quarter. In the past year, employment costs are up 1.8%, the slowest increase since the government began tracking the data in 1980. For workers in the private-sector, employment costs rose 0.2% in the second quarter. In the past year, private-sector compensation rose 1.5%, the smallest gain on record.

Chicago PMI Rises - The Chicago purchasing managers index (PMI) rose to 43.4% in July from 39.9% in June, according to a survey of corporate purchasing managers released Friday. The index has been improving since hitting an all-time low in March. Four of seven sub-components advanced during the month. The Chicago PMI is considered a leading indicator to the national Institute for Supply Management (ISM) manufacturers' survey to be released on Monday.

UBS, US Come to an Agreement - Swiss bank UBS has finally come to an agreement in principle with US authorities over an attempt to get the bank to disclose the details of around 52,000 U.S. clients, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The report said Stuart Gibson, a Justice Department tax division attorney, told Judge Alan Gold of the development on a conference call, but did not provide further details of the settlement. A hearing scheduled for Monday in Miami has been rescheduled for Aug. 7 when more details are likely to be released. The IRS has demanded the identities of the account holders, but UBS and the Swiss government have both said releasing the information would violate Swiss laws.

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