Solid Car Sales Likely: Morning Business Memo

Mar 1, 2012 7:39am

Look for more signs of economic growth in reports to be released today. The car industry releases February sales figures, and they’re expected to be solid. Edmunds.com looks for monthly sales to come in 20 percent above January’s number. The top U.S. sales analyst at Ford, Erich Merkle, says sales seemed to pick up around President’s Day and that rising gas prices have lured consumers in to buy smaller more fuel-efficient vehicles. The Commerce Department issues monthly surveys on construction and consumer incomes and spending. The Institute of Supply Management reports its findings on manufacturing in February.

A new business survey finds the economy has picked in the past six months. “There’s no question that it is better,” says Brian Hamilton, CEO of Sageworks. His company collects financial data from many thousands of privately-owned firms. “In 2009 of the 1,400 industries we tracked there were about 12 that were doing well. Now of all those industries we tracked there are very few that are doing poorly. It’s amazing.” Hamilton says even real estate and construction are starting to improve.

Here we go again. Despite an uproar over proposed debit card fees last September, Bank of America is testing new charges for many consumers as it tries to cut costs. The Wall Street Journal reports the changes would require people with some checking accounts to pay a monthly fee unless they agree to bank online or buy other banking products. Banks often lose money on basic checking, and many have already eliminated free checking accounts.

Foreclosures are still a big drag on housing prices in many parts of the country. But sales of distressed homes last year accounted for the smallest slice of overall home sales in three years. RealtyTrac reports over 900,000 sales – 23 percent of all sales.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio twitter.com/daviesabc

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