Thursday, September 17, 2009

Quick Notes for the Day - September 17

Household Net Worth Rises - The Federal Reserve reported that US households were $2 trillion richer on June 30 than March 31, and this was the first increase in this gauge in two years. Household wealth rose in the second quarter at a 17% annual rate to $53.1 trillion after falling at a 13% rate in the first quarter. The rally on Wall Street was the main reason for the increase in household wealth, but rising home prices contributed as well. Consumers continued to pay down debts or have their debts written off at a record pace. In the second quarter, household debt fell at a 1.7% annual rate to $13.7 trillion, matching the record percentage decline in the fourth quarter.

Philly Fed Factory Index Up - The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported the diffusion index (manufacturing activity) rose to 14.1 in September from 4.2 in August, and this is the highest level of the index since July 2007. Despite the increase, the employment index remained firmly in negative territory in September, dropping to negative 14.3 from negative 12.9 in August.

August Housing Starts Rise - The Commerce Department reported that new construction of houses increased 1.5% in August to a seasonally adjusted 598,000 annualized units and was the highest reading since November 2008. Starts of new single-family homes fell 3.0% to 479,000 in August, for the first decline in six months. Starts of large apartment units jumped 25.3% to 119,000. Building permits, a leading indicator of housing construction, rose 2.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 579,000.

Initial Jobless Claims Drop - The Labor Department reported a decrease of 12,000 to 545,000 for the number of people filing for state unemployment benefits for the first time. This is the lowest recorded number since July. Continuing claims rose by 129,000 to a seasonally adjusted 6.23 million.

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