Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Quick Notes for the Day - September 15

Bernanke Says the Recession Is Over - Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke said Tuesday that the recession has ended from a numbers standpoint. "From a technical point [of view], the recession is very likely over at this point," Bernanke told a conference at the Brookings Institution. Bernanke said there is a "risk" that labor markets will remain weak through 2010 because growth will be too anemic to create jobs. Bernanke noted that many economists now expect the labor market to recover slowly, but he said this was only a forecast and might be wrong.

Retail Sales Rise - The Commerce Department reported that retail sales rose a seasonally adjusted 2.7% in August which is the largest increase in more than three years. The number was helped by the cash for clunkers program, higher gas prices, and busy crowds at the malls for back to school shopping. Sales were down 5.3% compared with a year earlier. Auto sales surged 10.6% on the back of the government's cash-for-clunkers program. Excluding autos, sales rose 1.1%, the most since February. Gas station sales rose 5.1% on higher prices. Excluding autos and gas, sales rose 0.6%.

August PPI Rises - The Labor Department reported that the August producer prices index rose 1.7% primarily due to a large gain in energy prices. If you remove the volatile energy and food prices, the core PPI rose just 0.2%.

Empire State Manufacturing Index Rises - The New York Fed reported that the Empire State Manufacturing index rose to 18.9 in September from 12.1 in August. This is the highest level for the index since the recession began in late 2007. New orders climbed in September while shipments dipped. The employment index remained in negative territory.

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