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The Atlanta Fed's macroblog provides commentary and analysis on economic topics including monetary policy, macroeconomic developments, inflation, labor economics, and financial issues.

Authors for macroblog are Dave Altig, John Robertson, and other Atlanta Fed economists and researchers.


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December 01, 2004


Good-News Day

A pretty busy day on the economic news front, and Santa appears to be delivering some holiday cheer.  First up, the October Personal and Income and Outlay report, which was greeted at Reuters this way:

U.S. consumer spending rose a sharper-than-expected 0.7 percent in October, showing the economy off to a solid fourth-quarter start despite a step-up in inflation, a government report showed on Wednesday.

"Looking pretty solid," said Kurt Karl, head of economic research at Swiss Re in New York. "I would say there is a very good holiday season coming up."

In addition to the strong spending figure, incomes rose 0.6 percent in October, the biggest increase since May and well ahead of September's 0.2 percent increase, the Commerce Department report showed. Wages, which account for over half of all personal income, gained 0.5 percent.

Consumer spending advanced at a sprightly 5.1 percent annual pace in the third quarter and economists are hopeful a strengthening job market will continue to boost incomes and support spending.

(That last paragraph was a bit redundant, but I don't get too many chances to post an item that uses the word "sprightly.")

The not-so-great inflation numbers don't appear to be damping anyone's good cheer.

The department's price index for consumer spending -- the Federal Reserve's favorite inflation gauge -- shot up 0.4 percent, the biggest rise since May.

But excluding volatile food and energy prices, the inflation index ticked up just 0.1 percent, holding the year-on-year reading at 1.5 percent, well within the Fed's inflation comfort zone.

I suppose I should object to characterizing a comfort zone that the Fed has not defined, but heck, I'm in the holiday spirit as well.

Meanwhile, over at the Institute for Supply Management, we find the manufacturing  sector moving along.

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector grew in November for the 18th consecutive month, while the overall economy grew for the 37th consecutive month, say the nation's supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business®.

The report was issued today by Norbert J. Ore, C.P.M., chair of the Institute for Supply Management™ Manufacturing Business Survey Committee and group director, strategic sourcing and procurement, Georgia-Pacific Corporation. "November reverses three consecutive months in which the rate of growth had slowed. The manufacturing sector appears poised to end the year on a strong note as the New Orders Index made its way back above the 60 percent mark, and the Employment Index picked up significant momentum. There is still significant upward pressure on prices as commodity price increases are common."

(Oops.  There's that ugly little price thing again. Be gone, Grinch!)

And finally, the Federal Reserve's December Beige Book report on regional economic conditions was released today.   

Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts generally paint a picture   of continued economic growth from mid-October to mid-November, with a number   of areas improving. Eleven Districts reported expanding economic activity, with   New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Dallas noting a pickup in the pace of expansion   since their last reports. Minneapolis indicated that the expansion in that District   was broad-based, and San Francisco described the region's activity as solid.   The Richmond, Chicago, and Kansas City Districts saw moderate gains in economic   activity while St. Louis viewed the gains there as modest. Only the Cleveland   District reported little change in economic activity.

Sweet home Ohio.

December 1, 2004 in Data Releases | Permalink

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