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Bill Losey’s Weekly Economic Update for December 3, 2012

SPENDING DOWN, CONFIDENCE & GDP UP

Personal spending decreased 0.2% in October, the first monthly retreat since June, possibly attributable to Superstorm Sandy. (Consumer spending dipped 0.3% when adjusted for inflation.) Personal income was flat in October for the first time since April. Even so, November’s Conference Board index of consumer confidence measured 73.7, a 57-month high. The Bureau of Economic Analysis revised Q3 GDP up to 2.7%, although federal spending and restocking of goods were the major factors in the quarter’s improved output.

ANOTHER ROUND OF POSITIVE HOUSING NEWS

New home sales have increased 17.2% in the last 12 months, even with a 0.3% retreat in October. In addition to that news from the Census Bureau, the latest edition of the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index showed home values in the third quarter rising 3.6% from Q3 2011. The National Association of Realtors reported a 5.2% jump in its pending home sales index in October, which at 104.8 reached its highest point since March 2007.


BUSINESSES KEEP PURCHASING AS CLIFF NEARS

Durable goods orders were flat in October, but they rose 1.5% minus transportation orders. Increasing orders for electrical components (+4.1%), computers (+0.9%) and machinery (+2.9%) showed confidence on the part of companies.

NEGOTIATIONS STALL, BUT STOCKS ADVANCE

Even with very little progress in the fiscal cliff talks in Washington, the S&P 500 managed a 0.50% gain last week to reach 1,416.25 at the closing bell on Friday. The NASDAQ (+1.46% to 3,010.24) and Dow (+0.12% to 13,025.04) also advanced last week. The NASDAQ and S&P respectively gained 1.11% and 0.29% in November; the DJIA, on the other hand, slipped 0.55% on the month. Gold closed Friday at $1,710.90; oil settled Friday at $88.91.

 

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