Consumer confidence improved more than projected in August as merchant discounts and record-low interest rates help U.S. households bolster finances.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final sentiment index climbed to 74.3, a three-month high, from 72.3 in July. The gauge averaged 89 in the five years leading up to the recession. Other reports indicated manufacturing is cooling. Incentives by companies such as General Motors Co. (GM) are boosting sales, just as Federal Reserve efforts to lower borrowing costs are allowing Americans to reduce debt, which may underpin consumer spending. Nonetheless, Fed Chairman...Read more
A rising number of manufacturers are canceling new investments and putting off new hires because they fear paralysis in Washington will force hundreds of billions in tax increases and budget cuts in January, undermining economic growth in the coming months.
Executives at companies making everything from electrical components and power systems to automotive parts say the fiscal stalemate is prompting them to pull back now, rather than wait for a possible resolution to the deadlock on Capitol Hill. Democrats and Republicans are far apart on how to extend the Bush-era tax breaks beyond January — the same month automatic spending reductions are set to take effect —...Read more
Hiring Increases, But Jobless Rate Inches Up to 8.3 Percent; In July, the economy added the most jobs since February
The national unemployment rate inched up slightly to 8.3 percent for the month of July, according to the latest monthly jobs report from the Labor Department.
Though the headline number ticked upward, the economy also added far more jobs than expected, with 163,000 new jobs last month—the most in five months. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg, for example, had predicted a bump of 100,000 jobs. Still, a stubbornly high unemployment figure is a troubling sign. Job troubles have recently been far-reaching, with no particular industry showing encouraging growth, says Brad Sorensen, Director of Market and Sector Research at Schwab. "I don't know that there's any specific industry that is...Read more