a happier new year?

Reuters: New claims for jobless aid hit their lowest level in more than two years last week and factory activity in the Midwest grew in December at its fast pace since 1988, evidence the recovery was gaining steam.

Views economic activity accelerated in the fourth quarter were hardened by another report on Thursday showing pending sales of previously owned homes rose more than expected in November, even though the housing market remains in distress.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 34,000 to a seasonally adjusted 388,000, the lowest reading since early July 2008, the Labor Department said. That was well below economists’ expectations for 415,000.

Separately, the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago’s business barometer jumped to 68.6 from 62.5 in November, beating economists’ expectations for a dip to 61.0. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the regional economy.

….the reports backed perceptions the recovery from the worst recession since the 1930s was gaining traction after a pause earlier in the year.

..In a third report, the National Association of Realtors said its pending home sales index based on signed contracts to buy previously owned houses rose 3.5 percent last month to 92.2. The second straight month of gains beat market expectations for a 2 percent increase.

…Underscoring the nascent labor market strength, the four-week average of new jobless claims, considered a better measure of underlying labor market trends, fell 12,500 to 414,000, also the lowest level since July 2008.

“This adds to the idea that the jobs picture is improving … this is another feather in the cap of the idea of recovery,” said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital in New York.

Even more encouraging, the Chicago factory report showed the employment gauge rose to 60.2 from 56.3 in November….

4 Responses to “a happier new year?”

  1. 1 Little Lulu
    December 30, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Everywhere I go, everyone I see this season is in a better mood than they’ve been in years. It’s obvious that the economy is improving and people are feeling more confident about finding jobs or keeping their jobs. It’s a HUGE CHANGE from the darkness of the plunge of 2008, when the only bright spot was the knowledge that a truly competent, intelligent, diplomatic, pragmatic, humble, elegant, gracious, caring man would be taking this country in a new direction one month later. Thank God! And thank YOU, Mr. President! Well done! And impossibly fast, too!

    We sure are lucky, folks!


  2. 2 cat48
    December 30, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    I hope so, but I’m not convinced yet. Ron Insana, CNBC, NBC News; thinks it will get better this year based on all signs. (he has a good prediction record) Like a lot of finance people, he said that Greece debt problems killed the recovery that started last Spring b/c it frightened business owners & investors & they drew back. (Krugman swears Greece didn’t kill it b/c it was never recovering??) Insana said European countries are still volatile & one country could again kill a recovery he feels that is starting to take off again; if another country like Spain has debt problems that might kill it again. This is really tough when your own country’s recovery depends on the global econ’s health. I guess I’m cautiously optimistic and hopeful.

    • December 30, 2010 at 1:04 pm

      Hey cat48, it is scary how there seems to be an economic domino effect, one country falls and so many others suffer as a result. All European eyes are on Ireland at the moment – its economy effectively collapsed in the last few months and had to bailed out by Europe and the International Monetary Fund. The fear now is that Spain, Portugal and/or Greece will follow, and that the European currency (the Euro) will crash. And who knows what the consequences will be on a wider scale if that happens. Scary times, it’s all so fragile.

  3. December 30, 2010 at 12:58 pm


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