Thursday, March 26, 2009

US data releases

The US data releases continued to be surprisingly strong.
Both durable goods and sales of new homes unexpectedly rose in February according to yesterday's reports. Durable goods orders jumped 3.4% in February, after dropping a revised 7.3% in January.
This increase was the largest in more than a year, and the first positive move in seven months.
The other big piece of data released by the Commerce Department showed New home sales increased 4.7% vs. the January sales.
These two positive numbers eased fears in the equity markets, and encouraged investors to take more risks. This is why positive economic data releases in the US cause a sell off in the US$ (the reversal of the trend we were seeing earlier this year).
Does anyone find it odd that all of the data we are seeing this week are surprisingly strong, while the revisions to the prior month's data show even bigger drops? I'm not accusing the government of massaging the numbers (wink wink) but it just seems odd.
Today we will see the GDP numbers from 4th quarter of 2008. The economists are predicting a drop of 6.6% during the last quarter, but the trend with data releases this week would suggest the number will come a bit stronger. We will also see the weekly jobless claims which are expected to show another 650k US citizens were out of a job last week. This would be the eighth consecutive week of a 600k+ number for jobless claims. The jobs numbers will have to start improving if the US is going to really turn things around.

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