US Economy Set for Takeoff?

Jul 8, 2013 8:10am

Morning Business Memo:

Better days might be ahead for the U.S. economy, and the latest sign could come as soon as today with the release of the May consumer credit report. It’s likely to show more consumers have taken out loans for autos and other major purchases. Friday’s jobs report was better than expected. U.S. employers have added an average 202,000 jobs for the past six months, up from 180,000 in the previous six.

June’s jobs gain was fueled by consumer spending and the housing recovery. The consumer economy is showing more signs of flashing green. Consumer confidence has reached a five-year high. Small-business confidence might also indicate further signs of improvement Tuesday when the National Federation of Independent Business releases its small-business optimism index.

Wholesale oil prices jumped nearly 7 percent in the past week, but few analysts are concerned about a spike in gasoline prices. Indeed, with a recent fix for several refinery problems, average gas prices have been falling. Friday’s stronger-than-expected jobs report boosted speculation about an increase in demand for fuel. The crisis in Egypt might be the biggest factor in the recent increase. Egypt controls the Suez Canal, one of the world’s most important shipping lanes. West Texas crude futures are above $103.

Second quarter earnings season begins this week and Wall Street will be watching closely. Stock futures rose this morning after Friday’s gains, following the jobs report. Gold prices are at a three-year low, $1227 an ounce. Bond yields are now close to two-year highs with the latest quote for 10-year Treasuries at 2.7 percent. The sharp increase in long-term yields might lead to another hike for mortgage rates.

Meetings on a trans-Atlantic, free-trade deal begin today. European Union officials say the United States and the European Union have agreed to discuss “data protection and privacy rights” in parallel with the trade talks this week. Some states voiced concerns the discussions would be delayed on reports of U.S. spying on European institutions and countries.

Standard & Poor’s has cut SoftBank’s credit rating to junk, reflecting increased financial risks after clearance of its $21.6 billion acquisition of Sprint Nextel. SoftBank shares fell 3.4 percent in Tokyo. The Federal Communications Commission approved the Sprint deal Friday. SoftBank won a bidding war for Sprint, the third-largest U.S. carrier, after raising its takeover bid. Dish Network abandoned a rival proposal.

He was never the most colorful or charismatic Treasury secretary, but Timothy Geithner is apparently a big draw. The Financial Times says Geithner “has been elevated to the highest rank of public speakers”, getting $400,000 for three recent speeches. That puts him in the same league as Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, who have made millions from their speaking engagements since leaving public office.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesabc

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