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A gauge of planned U.S. business spending was flat in September, a sign that heightened uncertainty is weighing on factories although new orders for long-lasting manufactured goods increased during the month. The Commerce Department said on Thursday that non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, was unchanged last month at $ 60.3 billion. That was short of economists’ expectations for a 0.7 percent gain. Many economists believe companies are holding back investments due to fears the U.S. Congress could fail to avert sharp tax hikes and spending cuts in 2013, which threaten to [...]

NEW YORK A measure of future U.S. economic expansion eased modestly last week though the annualized growth rate continued to climb, a research group said on Friday. The Economic Cycle Research Institute, a New York-based independent forecasting group, said its Weekly Leading Index edged down to 126.3 in the week ended September 28 from a revised 126.6 the previous week. The previous week’s number was originally reported as 126.7. The index’s annualized growth rate rose to 4.7 percent – its highest level since June 2011 – from 3.8 percent. (Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Dale Hudson)

Led by expectations, a gauge of consumer confidence jumped up in September to the highest level in seven months, but remained relatively low, the Conference Board reported Tuesday. The consumer-confidence index increased to 70.3 in September – the highest level since February – from a revised 61.3 in August. A prior estimate for August pegged the level at 60.6. “Despite continuing economic uncertainty, consumers are slightly more optimistic than they have been in several months,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, a New York research group. September expectations increased for employment and business conditions, while [...]

High gas prices have made drivers more aware than ever of the cost of a fill-up and the fuel economy of their current cars, but those who are using the fuel economy calculator built into their cars to track their miles per gallon are in for a surprise. The gauge, which is usually part of your car’s trip computer, is probably wrong. A recent study by independent car information site Edmunds.com found that the gauges overestimated fuel economy by 5.5% on average, with one gauge overestimating by 19%. While a 5.5% overestimation may not seem significant, it can really add [...]

LOS ANGELES HSBC’s preliminary reading of Chinese manufacturing activity dropped to 47.8 for the current month from a final print of 49.3 in July, the bank said Thursday, marking the worst result in nine months. The flash version of the China manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index remained below 50 for the 10th month in a row. The flash result is based on 85% to 90% of the total responses to the survey. Chinese stocks reversed direction after the result, with the Shanghai Composite Index swinging to a 0.3% loss.

BUILDING STRENGTH: The July strength in the index was led by a big rise in applications for building permits and declines in the number of people seeking unemployment benefits. The July increase pushed the index to 95.8, matching the May level which had been the highest reading in four years. ENCOURAGING SIGNS: Economists believe the index is pointing to continued modest growth in the economy through the rest of this  [ Read More ]

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