Thursday, October 22, 2009

Quick Notes for the Day - October 22

Leading Indicators Up 1% in September - The Conference Board reported that their leading economic indicators rose 1% in September which marks the sixth straight month of increases and a strong signal that a "recovery is developing." According to the group, 8 of 10 indicators were positive in September. Over the past six months, the index of leading indicator has risen 5.7% which marks the fastest increase since 1983. The index of coincident indicators was flat in September after two small increases in July and August. "These numbers strongly suggest that a recovery is developing," said Ken Goldstein, an economist for the the Conference Board. "However, the intensity of that recovery will depend on how much, and how soon, demand picks up."

Initial Jobless Claims Rise - The Labor Department reported that initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose in the latest week after two weeks of declines. Initial claims rose 11,000 to 531,000 versus claims that had fallen 34,000 in the prior two weeks. The four-week average of initial claims inched lower by 750 to 532,250 which is the lowest since mid-January. Meanwhile, the number of Americans receiving state jobless benefits fell 98,000 to 5.92 million in the week ending Oct 10. That's the lowest level since the end of March. The four-week moving average of continuing claims fell 59.250 to 6.03 million, the lowest level since the week ended April 11.

House Financial Services Committee Passes Consumer Financial Protection Agency - Thursday morning, the House Financial Services Committee voted to approve the creation of a controversial Consumer Financial Protection Agency. The new agency would be responsible for writing rules for mortgage and credit card products and is a direct result of the credit crunch. In a partisan vote, lawmakers in the House Financial Services Committee approved the wide-ranging agency.

Home Prices Fall 0.3% in August - The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported that home prices fell 0.3% in August after rising the previous three months. Prices are down 3.6% year over year and down 10.7% from the peak. Prices rose in four of nine regions, fell in four and were flat in the other. The biggest gains came in the Pacific region (up 1.2%) and Mountain region(up 0.8%), where the housing bubble was the most intense. The largest declines in August were in the South Atlantic (down 1.6%) and New England (down 1.1%).

Natural Gas Gains on Inventory Data - Natural gas futures erased earlier losses Thursday after the Energy Information Administration reported inventories rose 18 billion cubic feet. After the data, natural gas rose 0.8% to $5.138 per million British thermal units.

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