Tag Archives: Commerce Department

GDP Rises 1.7%; Why That's Horrible

By Kevin Spak

The US economy grew 1.7% last quarter, the Commerce Department announced today , which is a lot better than the 1% analysts expected. “It is what markets and the journalists who write about them like to call a ‘huge beat,'” writes Neil Irwin at the Washington Post , before adding,… …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Newser – Home

Stock Futures Point Higher Ahead of Numerous Earnings Reports

By IBTimes

new york stock exchange floor traders economic earnings reports profits economy

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Richard Drew/AP

By Sreeja VN

U.S. stock futures point to a higher open Wednesday, ahead of the publication of new home sales data and quarterly earnings statements from major American companies, including Facebook, Ford, PepsiCo, Qualcomm, Visa and Boeing.

Futures on the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) were up 0.2 percent, while futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index (^GSPC) were up 0.3 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 0.9 percent.

Investors are expected to focus on new home sales data for June, to be released by the Commerce Department, at 10 a.m. Eastern time. Analysts expect new home sales — the annualized number of new single-family homes that were sold during the previous month — may probably increase to 485,000 in June from 476,000 in the previous month.

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New home sales had recorded a better-than-expected gain in May, helped by a pick-up in demand, while existing home sales data for June, which was released Monday, showed a decline. Analysts attributed the fall to a recent hike in mortgage interest rates and believe new home sales could still increase in June.

“With the NAHB current sales index still rising strongly, we have penciled in an increase in new sales from 476,000 in May to 485,000,” Paul Diggle, an economist with Capital Economics, wrote in a research note.

On the earnings front, a number of major companies, including Caterpillar (CAT), Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY), EMC Corp. (EMC), US Airways Group, (LCC), Ford (F), PepsiCo (PEP) and Boeing (BA), will announce quarterly earnings before market hours. Visa (V), Western Digital (WDC), Qualcomm (QCOM) and Facebook (FB) are to announce their earnings after markets close Wednesday.

Markit Economics’ flash Purchasing Managers’ Index, or PMI, for the manufacturing sector in the month of July, is scheduled to be released at 9 a.m. Eastern time. The index, which measures the activity level of purchasing managers in the manufacturing sector, is expected to show a reading of 52.5 in July, up from the 51.9 recorded in June. A reading below 50 indicates contraction.

European markets were trading higher Wednesday, as investor sentiments were buoyed after flash PMIs for the euro zone’s manufacturing and services sectors beat expectations. The 17-nation eurozone’s manufacturing PMI for July came in at 50.1 compared to 48.8 in the previous month. The services PMI registered a reading of 49.6 compared to 48.3 in June.

Germany’s manufacturing PMI came in at 50.3 in July, up from 48.6 in June while the nation’s services PMI was at 52.5 in July, up from 50.4 in June. Meanwhile, in neighboring France, while the …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Stock Up for the Coming Collapse

By Rich Duprey, The Motley Fool

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You should stock up for the coming economic collapse, because American businesses aren’t. A just-released Commerce Department report adds to the growing list of indices pointing to a major economic decline coming our way. February inventories rose just 0.1%, well below the 0.4% increase economists had anticipated and much worse than the downwardly revised 0.9% increase seen in January.

When companies slowly rebuild their inventories, as they are now, it means factories produce less, lowering overall economic output. And if we look at the Institute for Supply Management’s inventory survey for March, we get a sense that when Commerce releases its own figures for the month, it’s going to look ugly. The ISM survey showed a 2% decline in March inventories to 49.5, an indication that things are contracting at an accelerated rate. 

The down escalator
That’s on top of a collapse in consumer confidence, the non-participation rate in the labor market hitting Depression-era levels, unadjusted weekly unemployment claims jumping again, vehicle sales missing estimates, and a whole slew of other economic indicators coming in below expectations.

Clothing and accessories retailers had their best showing in February, as inventories gained 3% from January. Yet as we saw just recently, March retail sales contracted, so the uptick that was enjoyed is apparently over already, and coupled with a gloomy consumer outlook, those tax increases implemented at the start of the year are beginning to weigh down the economy.

Try this on for size
While some clothing shops such as Gap beat analyst expectations on same-store sales last month, the fact that they were down 1% anyway is hardly a source of confidence. TJX was down 2.2%, while Ross Stores was up 2%, actually beating expectations, but far below the 10% jump it experienced a year ago. 

Although some of the sales declines in March were the result of lower gas sales, Americans also spent less on other goods. Even among big-box retailers, the results were disappointing. Costco  reported that same-store sales rose 4% in March, but they were significantly below the 5.2% analysts were anticipating. Overall, the Thomson Reuters index of retailers showed that comps grew just 2.2% last month, its lowest showing since September 2009.

Running off the road
One of the bright spots of the economy has been automakers, but there, too, car sales fell 1.3% in March to an annual pace of 15.3 million, down from 15.4 million the month before. Where Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler all reported sales gains, they couldn’t make up for the losses at many foreign manufacturers, and it’s showing, as car sales are steadily falling.

Many analysts point to the increase in taxes at the start of the year, particularly payroll taxes, as the lead cause for the slack showing up. The economy appears to be ratcheting down rather abruptly, following Europe‘s epic slide into a double-dip recession that even China couldn’t stanch.

Perhaps we don’t need to act like doomsday preppers, but then again, stocking up for a potentially

From: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/04/14/stock-up-for-the-coming-collapse/

Retail Sales Fall Unexpectedly in March Amid Chilly Weather

By Reuters

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Toby Talbot/AP

WASHINGTON — U.S. retail sales contracted in March for the second time in three months, a sign the American economy may have stumbled at the end of the first quarter.

Retail sales fell 0.4 percent during the month, the Commerce Department said on Friday. That was below analyst expectations that sales would be flat.

Readings for retail sales have been volatile so far this year, making it difficult to know whether the weakness in March was due to a tax hike that went into effect at the start of the year or to temporary factors related to the weather.

Retail sales advanced 1 percent in February, according to revised readings from the government.

Stripping out cars, gasoline and building materials, sales fell 0.2 percent in March. This core measure corresponds closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product. The government revised lower past core retail sales figures to show a 0.3 percent gain in February and flat sales in January.

Prior reports on retail sales had made consumers look surprisingly resilient despite tax increases that kicked in on Jan. 1. A tax on payrolls climbed for all workers, while income tax rates rose for the nation’s most wealthy.

Fiscal policy tightened further in March when the federal government began across-the-board spending cuts, part of Washington’s efforts to shrink the budget deficit.

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Non-partisan researchers in the U.S. Congress estimate Washington’s austerity drive will subtract about 1.5 percentage points from economic growth this year.

Many economists have also noted the loss of economic momentum in many economic indicators for March could have been due to a warm winter which may have led companies and consumers to pull forward spending.

Indicators from retail sales and hiring to factory manager confidence were much stronger in February, and a chilly March may have dulled activity.

It is also plausible that economic reports haven’t accurately adjusted for the shift in timing for the Easter holiday, which fell in March of this year after falling in April of 2012.

The weakness in March retail sales was broad based, with car sales down 0.6 percent and receipts from electronics and appliance stores down 1.6 percent. Sales at clothing stores rose just 0.1 percent.

Reporting by Jason Lange; editing by Neil Stempleman.

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From: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/04/12/march-retail-sales-fall-unexpectedly/

Why the Dow Exploded Higher Today and Tech Stocks Will Tank Tomorrow

By John Maxfield, The Motley Fool

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Analysts and investors have been waiting for a pullback for weeks. Clearly, today wasn’t the day. After starting out slightly higher, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rocketed up as the morning progressed, finishing the day with a gain of 128 points, or 0.88%.

Given the triple-digit move, it’d be tempting to conclude that there was a huge positive impetus. But the reality is that it was more of a cumulative effect. In the first case, data from China showed that the country’s imports increased more than expected last month, suggesting that domestic demand in the world’s second-largest economy is picking up steam. As an analyst told Bloomberg News, “Chinese import numbers have got investors thinking that China has become successful at boosting domestic demand.”

In the U.S., meanwhile, the central bank released the minutes from its monetary policy meeting in March. The notes showed a growing sense of optimism among the participants, particularly when it came to housing. According to the minutes, “Meeting participants generally indicated that they viewed the economic data received during the intermeeting period as somewhat more positive than had been expected, but that fiscal policy appeared to have become more restrictive, leaving the outlook for the economy little changed on balance since the January meeting.”

It’s nevertheless important to note that these observations preceded last week’s disappointing jobs report. For the month of March, the Commerce Department reported that only 88,000 jobs were created. Economists were looking for a figure of 190,000 to 200,000. Either way, there’s little indication that the central bank is on the brink of reducing its ongoing quantitative easing programs, which are flooding the market with $85 billion each month and helping to keep long-term interest rates down.

What’s more important for tomorrow was a report issued after the bell by research firm IDC, which said that worldwide shipments of personal computers fell by 13.9% in the first quarter. Forbes summed it up with the headline “Worst PC sales drop in history.”

Shares of certain tech companies are taking it on the chin in afterhours trading. At the time of writing, Intel and Microsoft were down 2% and Hewlett-Packard  was off by nearly 3%. According to The Wall Street Journal, “The grim estimate of 76.3 million units shipped is the latest sign that consumers are shifting their dollars to smartphones and tablets rather than PCs, while responses such as convertible laptops and Microsoft’s touch-oriented Windows 8 operating system haven’t stemmed the cannibalization.”

With this in mind, it seems safe to assume that tomorrow could be rough for owners of these stocks.

It’s been a frustrating path for Microsoft investors, who’ve watched the company fail to capitalize on the incredible growth in mobile over the past decade. However, with the release of its own tablet, along with the widely anticipated Windows 8 operating system, the company is looking to make a splash in this booming market. In

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Wholesale Sales Rise, Inventories Drop for February

By Justin Loiseau, The Motley Fool

Filed under:

Wholesale sales were up and inventories down for February, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens in PDF) released today. After January’s sales slump and rise in inventories, this newest report indicates wholesalers are back on a more sustainable business path.

Sales for February increased 1.7% (from January) to a seasonally adjusted $422.5 billion, boosted significantly by a 10.6% spike in petroleum and petroleum products sales. Compared to February 2012, lumber sales have improved the most (+17.6%), while metals sales take the underperformance cake (-4.4%). Year-over-year U.S. total sales increased 3.7% in February 

February’s inventories shrank 0.3% to $501.4 billion. Even after January’s revised 0.8% rise, market analysts were expecting an additional 0.5% bump. A 0.9% drop in nondurable goods pushed inventories lower, led by a 5.7% drop in farm products. Despite the overall drop in inventories, computer equipment notched a 2.2% increase for February.

To understand the rate at which goods are being made and sold, economists compute an inventories/sales ratio. Since sales rose and inventories fell from January to February, the inventories/sales ratio dropped from 1.21 to 1.19, just 0.01 above February 2012’s ratio.

Source: census.gov. 

link

The article Wholesale Sales Rise, Inventories Drop for February originally appeared on Fool.com.

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Dow Waffles as Tech Sector Gains Momentum

By Jessica Alling, The Motley Fool

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After spending most of its time in negative territory yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average made a late rally, ending the day up 48 points. So far this morning, the index has been up and down, trading 10 points higher as of 11 a.m. EDT. Economic news hasn’t helped the index so far this morning, as three reports showed little positive growth.

First up was the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, which fell 1.3 points from Februrary’s results to 89.5. The survey of small business owners found that very few felt as if the current environment presented a good time to expand, another jab to the recovery. March’s results put the end to a three-month streak of gaining optimism, with 75% of business owners expecting conditions to be roughly the same in the next six months. This isn’t a good sign for the drooping labor market, as small businesses won’t hire if the conditions aren’t right.

Speaking of hiring, the number of job openings rose in February to 3.9 million from January’s 3.6 million — this is the highest number of job openings since May 2008 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Despite the openings hike, hiring and firing remained at the same levels as seen in the previous month.

Last up was wholesale inventories data, which fell unexpectedly in February as petroleum stocks fell and overall sales gained strength. The drop of 0.3% was the largest recorded in a year and a half, according to the Commerce Department. Economists had expected a 0.5% increase after the revised 0.8% jump in January.

Tech leads the way
The standout sector so far this morning in Dow trading has been the techies. Microsoft is one of the stocks leading the way, with a 1.75% gain. Microsoft is also leading a group of 16 other companies in a EU complaint against Google , claiming that the competitor is giving away its Android OS to smartphone manufacturers, as long as its software applications such as Google Maps are installed and at the forefront of the phone’s display. The group filing the antitrust complaint believes that such action corners customers into using Google products, which not only controls customer data, but also dominates the mobile market. The European Commission, the EU‘s antitrust authority, is not required to do any more than reply to the group’s complaint, though Google is already under scrutiny in Brussels and other countries for various reasons.

Intel is also up this morning, with a 1.94% gain. The tech giant is riding the exciting news that its next-generation Thunderbolt will provide double the speed of its current form. Set to begin production in 2014, the new Thunderbolt will allow 4K video transfer with simultaneous display in addition to running at 20 Gbps — the current version runs at 10 Gbps. Intel is also enjoying its head start on competitor ARM , with its new Avoton — …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Trade Deficit Improves For February

By Justin Loiseau, The Motley Fool

Filed under:

The U.S. international trade deficit improved slightly in February, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens a PDF) released today. The total deficit dropped $1.5 billion, to $43.0 billion, due primarily to a boost in goods exports. Market analysts were pleasantly surprised by the news, having expected a slight worsening to $44.8 billion.

Source: Commerce Department 

The goods deficit improved by $1.5 billion overall, led by $1.8 billion worth of increased industrial supplies and materials exports. At the same time, imports for industrial supplies and materials dropped $2.6 billion, more than reversing January’s trend.

Services exports and imports both bumped up $0.2 billion for February, but exports ($53.8 billion) continue to heavily outweigh imports ($36.5 billion).

In the past year, the overall trade deficit has managed a $1.6 billion decrease, reflected by a 3.2% increase in exports outweighing a 1.9% bump in imports.

The article Trade Deficit Improves For February originally appeared on Fool.com.

Y
ou can follow Justin Loiseau on Twitter, @TMFJLo, and on Motley Fool CAPS, @TMFJLo.
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U.S. Trade Gap Narrows in February on Stronger Oil, Auto Exports

By The Associated Press

Filed under: , , , ,

Patrick Semansky/AP

By MARTIN CRUTSINGER

WASHINGTON — The U.S. trade deficit unexpectedly narrowed in February as exports climbed close to an all-time high and the volume of imported crude oil fell to the lowest level in 17 years.

The gap between exports and imports shrank to $43 billion in February, down 3.4 percent from January’s revised $44.5 billion, the Commerce Department said Friday. It was the smallest trade imbalance since December when the gap had declined to $38.1 billion, the lowest point in nearly three years.

Exports rose 0.8 percent to $186 billion, close to the record high set in December. Stronger exports of U.S. energy products and autos offset declines in sales of airplanes and farm equipment. Imports were flat at $228.9 billion with the volume of crude oil falling to the lowest point since March 1996.

The politically sensitive deficit with China shrank to $23.4 billion, the lowest point in 11 months. Exports to the European Union were down 0.9 percent in February, compared to January, reflecting continued economic weakness as that region struggles with a recession triggered by a debt crisis.

Through the first two months of this year, the U.S. deficit is running at an annual rate of $524.5 billion, down slightly from last year’s $539.5 billion imbalance.

Economists expect the deficit this year will narrow slightly, in part because of continued gains in U.S. energy exports. A narrower trade gap boosts growth because it means U.S. companies are earning more from overseas sales while U.S. consumers and businesses are spending less on foreign products.

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But Paul Dales, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said that he was worried that expectations for exports to keep rising faster than imports may fall short given uncertain global conditions.

“We are concerned that subdued global demand will hold back export growth. And the rest of the data released this week makes us more concerned that the domestic economy is a bit weaker than we thought,” he said.

In a separate report Friday, the government said that the U.S. economy created just 88,000 jobs in March, the fewest in nine months.

The economy as measured by the gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 0.4 percent in the October-December quarter. Economists believe economic growth strengthened in the January-March quarter to around 3 percent.

In addition to increases in U.S. energy exports, economists are also hopeful that exports of other products will rise this year as well, helped by stronger growth in some major export markets.

Taking a Harder Line on China

That forecast is based on an assumption that the European debt crisis will stabilize, helping boost exports to that region and that growth in Asia will rebound further. The outlook for Europe has been clouded in …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Is the Manufacturing Sector Ready to Collapse?

By Rich Duprey, The Motley Fool

Filed under:

The economy is still expanding, according to the Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index, which came in at 51.3 for March, the fourth consecutive month of growth it’s recorded. But it was well below expectations of 54.0, and with new orders tumbling to just 51.4 from 57.8 — a better than 6% decline — it’s suggestive of a U.S. ready to slip back into recession.

An index above 50 is considered an expanding manufacturing economy, and, naturally, below that level is contraction. The index was driven higher last month based on the strength of the auto and housing industries, aligning with what’s been seen in those markets. General Motors , for example, recorded a better than 6% jump in new-vehicle sales in March, while Ford was up just less than 6%. Chrysler came in third at 5%.

Not just muscle cars
Their sales of full-size pickup trucks were also robust, and analysts said that would coincide with the strength of the housing markets in recent periods. According to just-released Commerce Department data, private residential construction climbed 2.2% to $303.4 billion, its highest level in more than four years.

When Hovnanian Enterprises reported its quarterly results last month, the homebuilder showed a narrower loss than the year-ago figure based on higher sales and new orders. With analysts at Morgan Stanley forecasting pricing strength in the market this year — anywhere from 2% to 10% growth is seen in 2013 — the sector could be a bright spot, and builders could be ones to watch.

Rise of the machines?
What investors really need to keep an eye on is that falloff in new orders, as machinery was one of just three sectors seeing contraction (petroleum and coal and chemical products were the other two). We did see the global PMI just come out a bit stronger than February, and that was helped along by China, which was stronger than anticipated.  

The warning shot again, however, is Europe, where output declined and unemployment of 12% across the eurozone is at record high levels. The dire financial situation unfolding in Cyrpus is waiting for a match to ignite it across the continent.

Offsetting some of that negativity is the rise of manufacturing jobs here at home, which grew 1.6% in March, but with industrial suppliers MSC Industrial Direct and Fastenal having previously warned of industry weakness, and with both due to report earnings next week, we’ll know whether the softness they experienced last quarter plays out. These companies rise and fall with the PMI indexes, domestic and global, and the mixed signals we’ve gotten suggests that their earnings won’t provide much clarity.

If the eurozone financial contagion spreads, it’s an all-bets-are-off scenario, but I’m already pessimistic we’ll be soon heading back down the rabbit hole.

A long, strange trip
If you’re concerned that Ford’s turnaround has run its course, relax — there’s good reason to think that the Blue Oval still has big …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

New Orders for Manufactured Goods up 3% for February

By Justin Loiseau, The Motley Fool

Volkswagen Scirocco GTS - front three-quarter view, lights on

Filed under:

New orders for manufactured goods increased 3% to a seasonally adjusted $492 billion for February, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens in PDF) released today.

After a revised 1% dip in January, new orders have reached an all-time high since data were first collected in 1992. Market analysts had expected a 2.9% increase.

Source: Census.gov. 

Excluding transportation, new factory orders look less optimistic. Similar to the latest durable goods report, transportation accounted for 2.7 percentage points of all new orders. New orders for the transportation sector jumped 21.8%, with nondefense aircraft and parts playing the biggest role there.

Shipments and unfilled orders continued a consecutive climb in February, both up 0.9% for the fifth gain in six months. Inventories also increased 0.2% to $620 billion for the highest level ever recorded. Even as transportation drove new orders up in February, its 31 consecutive months of inventory increase continued to push inventories higher.

link

The article New Orders for Manufactured Goods up 3% for February originally appeared on Fool.com.



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Construction Spending Jumped 1.2% in February

By Tim Brugger, The Motley Fool

Filed under:

Construction spending jumped to a seasonally adjusted rate of $885.1 billion in February, 1.2% higher than January’s adjusted rate of $874.8 billion, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported today [link opens in PDF].

February’s number was 7.9% higher than February 2012’s annualized total of $820.7 billion.

Private construction, including both residential and nonresidential building, was at a rate of $613 billion in February, an increase of 1.3% compared to January’s rate. Public construction, which includes highway and education-related building, rose 0.9% from the prior month, to $272.1 billion.

In the private sector, nonresidential construction spending outpaced residential totals, with an annually adjusted rate of $309.6 billion, compared to $303.4 billion for residential building. Education spending in the public sector was the only area that saw a decrease from January’s rates, dropping to an annual rate of $63.2 billion, 0.3% below January’s $63.3 billion.

The U.S. Commerce Department‘s monthly construction spending survey covers work done on new structures, in addition to improvements made to both private and public sector buildings. Spending totals include the cost of materials, architectural, engineering, labor costs, builders’ profits, and taxes and interest.

link

The article Construction Spending Jumped 1.2% in February originally appeared on Fool.com.

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Stock Futures Edge Up After Long Easter Weekend

By The Associated Press

Filed under: , ,

(AP Photo/David Karp)

NEW YORK — U.S. stock futures are edging higher ahead of reports on manufacturing in March and construction spending in February.

After a three-day Easter holiday weekend, Dow Jones industrial futures were up 10 points at 14,507. S&P 500 futures edged up 0.4 point to 1,563.10. Nasdaq futures were up 3 points to 2,814.

The Institute for Supply Management is expected to report Monday that its manufacturing index grew for the fourth consecutive month in March, albeit at a slightly slower pace than in February.

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Separately, the Commerce Department is expected to report that spending on construction projects rebounded in February, after a decline in January.

Both reports are expected at 10 a.m. Eastern time

Asian markets finished mostly lower on Monday. European markets remain closed for the Easter holiday.

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Commerce Department Releases Personal Income and Spending Data for February

By Eric Volkman, The Motley Fool

Filed under:

Americans became incrementally richer this past February. According to the Commerce Department‘s latest release on personal income and outlay data compiled by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the category grew during the month by $143.2 billion, or 1.1%, over January’s level. Disposable personal income also advanced, as did personal consumption expenditures. The growth in those categories was by $127.8 billion (1.1%), and $77.2 billion (0.7%), respectively, over that same time frame.

The fortunes of those indicators were mixed on a month-over-month basis in January. Personal income dropped by $513.5 billion (3.7%), while DPI fell by $498.3 billion (4%). On the other hand, PCE climbed by $40.8 billion ( 0.4%).

The article Commerce Department Releases Personal Income and Spending Data for February originally appeared on Fool.com.

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Q4 Corporate Profits Up 3.1%, Taxes Up 21%

By Justin Loiseau, The Motley Fool

Filed under:

Along with its final revision of Q4 GDP, the Commerce Department today released [link opens in PDF] its latest estimate on corporate profits for last quarter and 2012 overall.

For Q4 2012, corporate profits clocked in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $2.01 trillion, 3.1% above 2011’s fourth-quarter number. Taxes on corporate income jumped 21% year-over-year in the fourth quarter, while after-tax profits with inventory and capital consumption adjustments fell 1.1% to an annual rate of $1.57 trillion. Not accounting for inventories and capital consumption, Q4 profits improved 13.3% year-over-year to a rate of $1.77 trillion.

Domestic industries accounted for a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.56 trillion in profit (with inventory and capital consumption adjustments), while overseas corporations notched a $452 billion annual rate in the fourth quarter. In absolute terms, manufacturing improved the most from Q3 to Q4, adding on $15.3 billion more in profits to the annual rate. For the same period, transportation and warehousing brought up the rear with a $14.9 billion drop.

For 2012 overall, profits from current production bumped up 6.8%, slightly below 2011’s 7.3% improvement. Domestic profits pushed ahead 9.5%, but overseas profit dipped 2% in the last year. With profit pushing higher, tax rates swelled to 18.5% in 2012, compared to a mild 1.5% hike in 2011.

The article Q4 Corporate Profits Up 3.1%, Taxes Up 21% originally appeared on Fool.com.

Y
ou can follow Justin Loiseau on Twitter, @TMFJLo, and on Motley Fool CAPS, @TMFJLo.
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Q4 GDP up 0.4% in Final Revision

By Justin Loiseau, The Motley Fool

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In its third and final estimate for Q4 2012, the Commerce Department announced [link opens a PDF] today that real GDP growth clocked in at an annual growth rate of 0.4%.  

This latest estimate is 0.3 percentage points above the Department’s second estimate of 0.1%, but fell short of analysts’ 0.6% expectations.

According to the government‘s press release, this newest revision “has not changed the general picture of the economy” despite upticks in personal spending (+1.8%) and residential/nonresidential fixed investment (+17.6% and +13.2%, respectively).

The main Q4 drags on economic growth were private inventory investment, federal government spending (-14.8%), exports (-2.8%), and state/local government spending (-1.5%). 

Although Q4‘s rate fell below Q3’s 3.1% growth, real GDP growth for 2012 overall clocked in at 2.2%, compared with 1.8% in 2011. Looking ahead, the Federal Reserve released new GDP estimates last week that put GDP growth between 2.3% and 2.8% for 2013.

link

The article Q4 GDP up 0.4% in Final Revision originally appeared on Fool.com.

Y
ou can follow Justin Loiseau on Twitter, @TMFJLo, and on Motley Fool CAPS, @TMFJLo.
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Oil prices ease back after day of strong gains

The price of oil eased back Wednesday after a strong day of gains propelled by U.S. economic data suggesting a sustained recovery in the world’s largest economy.

Benchmark oil for May delivery fell 35 cents at late afternoon Bangkok time to $95.99 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $1.53 to finish at a five-week high of $96.34 a barrel on the Nymex on Tuesday.

The U.S. Commerce Department said Tuesday that orders for factory-produced durable goods rose more than expected in February. Home prices also rose in January, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city price index. That helped push up energy prices.

But analysts say it is too soon to forget about the debt crisis in Europe. The latest crisis point was Cyprus, which teetered on the brink of bankruptcy and collapse of its financial system until a deal was reached early Monday to provide some 10 billion euros ($12.9 billion) from international lenders. The deal, however, requires Cyprus to slash its oversized banking sector and inflict hefty losses on large depositors in troubled banks.

“The events in Cyprus have provided another very visible — albeit extreme — illustration of the financial problems and uncertainties in Europe which are holding back the global recovery,” said analysts at Capital Economics in a market commentary. “Indeed, even though the Cypriot economy itself is tiny, the ramifications could still be felt worldwide, both in economic activity and in financial market volatility.”

Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by U.S. refineries, fell 15 cents to $109.21 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 0.2 cent to $3.104 a gallon.

— Heating oil rose 0.2 cent to $2.8840 a gallon.

— Natural gas advanced by 1.5 cents to $4.006 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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Boeing's New Durable Goods Orders Up 5.7%

By Justin Loiseau, The Motley Fool

Filed under:

New orders for manufactured durable goods increased 5.7% in February to $232.1 billion, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens a PDF) released today. After falling a revised 3.8% in January, aircraft orders boosted durable goods past analysts’ expectations of a 3.5% increase.

Source: census.gov

New orders for nondefense aircraft rocketed up a seasonally adjusted 95.3% for February, primarily because of a boost in Boeing orders. The corporation’s sales pushed the overall transportation sector to a seasonally adjusted 21.7% gain for February. Excluding transportation, new orders for durable goods fell 0.5% overall, undercutting market projections of a 0.7% bump.

Durable-goods shipments and unfilled orders both posted modest gains, while inventories continued to climb 0.4% to $376.9 billion. Inventories have increased 16 of the past 17 months, and these newest numbers (once again) hit a new all-time high since data was first recorded in 1992.

The article Boeing’s New Durable Goods Orders Up 5.7% originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Justin Loiseau has no position in any stocks mentioned and did not order a Boeing plane in February. You can follow him on Twitter, @TMFJLo, and on Motley Fool CAPS, @TMFJLo.
The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don’t all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Boeing Helps the Dow Soar Higher

By Jessica Alling, The Motley Fool

Filed under:

The Dow Jones Industrial Average took a beating yesterday after investors were spooked by comments about the Cypress bailout plan becoming a template for fixing other troubled economies in the eurozone. Though the initial news of the bailout sent the index higher, Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem‘s comments created quite a stir, even after he later backtracked. Today, the Dow is rebounding thanks to good news from the housing markets and the Commerce Department.

The Case-Shiller home price index rose by 1% in January, which beat analyst estimates of a 0.9% gain. The index is 8.1% higher than a year ago, making the past 12 months’ gains the largest since 2006. Durable goods orders grew 5.7% in February as more and more transportation equipment is demanded — a rebound for that sector of goods, according to the Commerce Department. Analysts had expected a 3.8% increase after the orders had declined by 4.9% in January.

Dow winners
The index is led this morning by Boeing , which is up 2.13% so far in trading. The company is celebrating after the successful test flight of its 787 Dreamliner with a newly revised battery system. The test flight was two hours, with all systems checks going according to plan. The success of the first test flight will allow Boeing to complete a second round of tests, during which it will collect data to give to the FAA for review and possible subsequent approval for the Dreamliner fleet to be used in commercial flights. This new development in the 787 saga is a great one for Boeing, which is losing an estimated $50 million per week that the fleet is not in use after all 50 Dreamliners were grounded in January.

American Express is helping Boeing lead the Dow higher this morning. The personal finance company is up 1.25% as of this writing, thanks in part to its announcement yesterday that it will buy back 150 million of its outstanding shares, in addition to a 15% boost in its quarterly dividend. These plans will lead to a $3.2 billion expenditure on shares over the next three quarters and a $0.23 per-share dividend starting in the second quarter. AmEx is also reaping the rewards of its recent announcement with Wal-Mart that their joint Bluebird accounts will now be FDIC insured, up to the standard $100,000, and that all government payments (Social Security, tax refunds, etc.) can now be direct-deposited into the accounts. Wal-Mart is only up marginally on the news this morning, gaining 0.04%.

The Bluebird account venture is aimed at customers who are not satisfied with their current banks and/or are unwilling to bank with traditional institutions. Outside the Dow, Green Dot is after the same demographic, and enjoying the spoils of unhappy bank customers. Recently upgraded to “outperform” by analysts, Green Dot is on the rise this morning, gaining as much as 7.8% in trading. The company’s gains …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Demand for Durable Goods Rises Sharply in February

By The Associated Press

Filed under: , , , ,

Mike Groll/AP Washing machines are for sale at Green’s, a furniture and appliance store, in Albany, N.Y. Overall orders for durable goods surged 5.7 percent in February from January, the government said Tuesday.

A surge in commercial aircraft demand pushed orders for U.S. long-lasting manufactured goods up sharply in February. The gain offset a steep drop in orders that signal company investment plans, although economists viewed the decline as a temporary setback.

The broader trend in business investment remains favorable, they noted, and should add to growth in the January-March quarter.

“The picture of business spending to start the year is fairly healthy,” said Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG

Overall orders for durable goods surged 5.7 percent in February from January, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. It was the biggest monthly increase in five months.

A rebound in volatile commercial aircraft orders drove the gain. Those orders rose 95.3 percent after a 24 percent drop in January.

Orders for motor vehicles and parts rose 3.8 percent, the best showing since July. Excluding the volatile transportation sector, orders were down 0.5 percent.

Durable goods are products expected to last at least three years. Orders can fluctuate sharply from month to month.

Economists pay closest attention to orders for so-called core capital goods, which strip out volatile aircraft and defense orders and provide a better indication of the trend in business investment.

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Those orders declined 2.7 percent in February from January. Demand weakened for machinery and communications equipment, but rose for computers. Still, the decline followed a 6.7 percent surge in January, which was the biggest one-month gain in nearly three years. Prior to February’s decline, the category had risen in three of the previous four months.

Greenhaus said that if the big swings in January and February were averaged, orders looked solid for the first two months of the year. He estimates that core orders risen at about a 5 percent rate compared with the final three months of last year.

Peter Newland, an economist at Barclays, said the strength shown in the durable goods report had prompted a slight revision in expectations for overall economic growth in the first quarter to a rate of 2.6 percent, up 0.1 percentage point from the previous estimate.

Many economists were expecting a decline in the core capital goods after January’s impressive gain. The broader trend has been favorable, even with uncertainty surrounding tax and spending policies. Core capital goods orders dipped in December but posted strong gains in November and October.

Nearly all Americans who draw a paycheck began paying higher Social Security taxes on Jan. 1 while income taxes rose for the highest earning workers. And $85 billion in automatic spending cuts started to take effect on March 1, reductions that will mean …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance