Saturday, June 20, 2009

At the same time, the central bank may “aim to convince investors that tightening is not imminent,”

TO BE NOTED: From Bloomberg:

"Spending, Home Sales Probably Increased: U.S. Economy Preview

By Shobhana Chandra

June 21 (Bloomberg) -- Consumer spending in the U.S. probably rose in May for the first time in three months and home sales increased as Americans became more confident the recession will end this year, economists said before reports this week.

Purchases advanced 0.3 percent, according to the median of 58 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey ahead of Commerce Department figures due June 26. Combined sales of new and existing homes likely improved to 5.18 million, capping the first back-to-back increase since 2006, the survey showed.

“There’s more optimism as we get further away from last year’s financial-market chaos,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in New York. “Spending on the part of consumers seems to be picking up after a soft patch. It looks like housing has bottomed.”

Government efforts to restore the flow of credit and prop up incomes are allowing households to take advantage of retailer discounts even as unemployment soars. Federal Reserve policy makers, meeting this week, may try to reassure investors that interest rates will stay low for the foreseeable future and acknowledge the economy has improved since their last gathering.

The Commerce Department’s spending report may also show incomes increased 0.3 percent in May after gaining 0.5 percent the prior month, mainly reflecting the tax cuts and transfers linked to the administration’s stimulus plan, economists said.

Home Sales

Sales of existing homes climbed 3 percent to an annual pace of 4.82 million, the highest level since October, when the economy was in the throes of the financial crisis, according to the survey median. Foreclosure-driven declines in property values are helping to reduce the glut of unsold houses. The National Association of Realtors’ report is due June 23.

The next day, Commerce data may show purchases of new homes rose 2.3 percent in May to an annual pace of 360,000.

In another sign of the improving economic outlook, the Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment probably rose to 69 in June, the highest level in nine months, from 68.7 in May, economists’ forecasts show. The figures are due on June 26.

Business in Las Vegas has “clearly bottomed out,” said Jim Murren, chief executive officer of casino company MGM Mirage. “It’s just a matter of how long we’re going to be on the bottom, and that is what we’re debating internally,” Murren said in a telephone interview last week. “The business trends are no longer deteriorating.”

More Upbeat

Fed officials on June 24, at the conclusion of their two- day meeting, may say the U.S. is showing signs of emerging from the worst recession in a half century. Following their last meeting in April, policy makers said the economy will “remain weak for a time.” The central bankers will also keep the benchmark interest rate in the range of zero to 0.25 percent, economists said.

“The Fed is likely to sound more upbeat on growth prospects,” Dean Maki, chief U.S. economist at Barclays Capital in New York, said in a note to clients. At the same time, the central bank may “aim to convince investors that tightening is not imminent,” he said.

Such an announcement may be an attempt by policy makers to prevent borrowing costs from climbing even more, undermining tentative signs of recovery. The yield on the benchmark 10-year note reached as high as 3.95 percent at the close on June 10, after being as low as 2.54 percent on March 18, the day the Fed announced it would buy Treasury securities in a bid to push borrowing costs down.

Some parts of the economy are lagging. A Commerce report due June 24 may show bookings for goods meant to last several years slid 0.8 percent in May, the survey showed. Durable-goods orders excluding transportation equipment may have also fallen.

Gross domestic product shrank at a 5.7 percent pace in the first quarter, the same as estimated in May, revised figures from Commerce may show. Following a 6.3 percent pace of contraction in the last three months of 2008, the drop capped the worst six-month performance in five decades. The figures are due on June 25.

                         Bloomberg Survey

Release Period Prior Median
Indicator Date Value Forecast
Exist Homes Mlns 6/23 May 4.68 4.82
Exist Homes MOM% 6/23 May 2.9% 3.0%
Durables Orders MOM% 6/24 May 1.7% -0.8%
Durables Ex-Trans MOM% 6/24 May 0.4% -0.4%
New Home Sales ,000’s 6/24 May 352 360
New Home Sales MOM% 6/24 May 0.3% 2.3%
GDP Annual QOQ% 6/25 1Q F -5.7% -5.7%
Personal Consump. QOQ% 6/25 1Q F 1.5% 1.5%
GDP Prices QOQ% 6/25 1Q F 2.8% 2.8%
Core PCE Prices QOQ% 6/25 1Q F 1.5% 1.5%
Initial Claims ,000’s 6/25 13-Jun 608 600
Cont. Claims ,000’s 6/25 6-Jun 6687 6707
Pers Inc MOM% 6/26 May 0.5% 0.3%
Pers Spend MOM% 6/26 May -0.1% 0.3%
PCE Deflator YOY% 6/26 May 0.4% 0.1%
Core PCE Prices MOM% 6/26 May 0.3% 0.1%
Core PCE Prices YOY% 6/26 May 1.9% 1.8%
U of Mich Conf. Index 6/26 June F 69.0 69.0

To contact the reporter on this story: Shobhana Chandra in Washington at

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