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News : US Economy Last Updated: Dec 23, 2010 - 7:28 PM

US pre-Christmas economic data point to strengthening recovery
By Finfacts Team
Dec 23, 2010 - 3:06 PM

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US data released today on consumer spending, weekly initial jobless benefit claims, durable goods orders and new home sales, point to a strengthening economic recovery.

US consumer spending rose at a slower pace in November after rising by the largest amount in more than a year in October.

Consumer spending increased by 0.4% in November after having risen a better than initially estimated 0.7% in October, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) said today. Personal incomes grew by 0.3%.

The saving rate in November fell to 5.3% from a revised 5.4% in October. Meanwhile, the core price index for personal consumption expenditures, which excludes food and energy prices because of their volatility, in November rose 0.8% on a year-over-year basis, mirroring its October rise.

New orders for manufactured durable goods - - items expected to last at least 3 years -- in November decreased $2.6bn or 1.3% to $193.7bn, the US Census Bureau announced today. This decrease, down three of the last four months, followed a 3.1% October dip. Excluding transportation - - mainly commercial aircraft - - new orders increased 2.4%. Excluding defense, new orders decreased 2.3%.

Unfilled durable goods orders rose the 10th time in 11 months, up 0.4%.

The Census Bureau said orders for defense capital goods rose by 16.3% in November. Capital goods -- items expected to last 10 year or more - - orders dropped 4.6%. Non-defense capital goods orders dipped 6.8%. Excluding defense-related orders, demand for U.S. durable goods in November fell 2.3%.

The Department of Labor reports that initial weekly unemployment claims fell by 3,000 to 420,000 in the week ended Dec. 18th. The previous week's figures were revised upward to 423,000 from 420,000.

The four-week moving average was 426,000, an increase of 2,500.

New jobless claims are near their lowest level since Sept. 2008, the month when Lehman Brothers, the US investment bank, collapsed.

New home sales rose in November, but prices fell, signaling continued weakness in the housing market.

President Obama's season of progress:

Sales of new homes climbed by 5.5% compared to the prior month, rising to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 290,000, the Census Bureau said Thursday.

The median sales price of new houses sold in November 2010 was $213,000; the average sales price was $268,700. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of November was 197,000. This represents a supply of 8.2 months at the current sales rate.

On Wednesday, the BEA reported that real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 2.6% in the third quarter of 2010 after increasing 1.7% in the second quarter, according to estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The third quarter growth rate was revised up 0.1 percentage point from the “second” estimate released in November.

The acceleration in real GDP primarily reflected a sharp deceleration in imports (a subtraction in the calculation of GDP) and an acceleration in inventory investment that were partly offset by a downturn in residential investment and a slowdown in business investment in equipment and software.

A breakdown of the economic data, with Jim Iuorio, CME Group; Barry Knapp, Barclays; Mike Holland, Holland & Co.; CNBC's Rick Santelli & Steve Liesman.

Discussing what the data means for the markets, with Dubliner David Kelly, JP Morgan Funds chief market strategist.

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