Dreadful US data package

This Thanksgiving looks grim and there is every sign that it will be one very bad Christmas for retailers with the latest economic data coming through.

Consumer spending fell 1% in October, the biggest slump in seven years. Orders for US-made durable goods fell 6.2% and orders for transportation goods fell 11.1%. Add to that the list of companies, headed by the likes of Citigroup, Genworth Financial, and New York Times, that are cutting their dividends. And sales of new homes have fallen to their lowest level since 1991, the time of the last recession. And on the jobs front it's looking grimmer and grimmer. True, the number of Americans filing first- time claims for unemployment benefits has actually fallen but as Bloomberg reports, the four-week moving average of initial claims rose to 518,000, the highest since January 1983. The idea that there is more than half a million out there looking for work is seriously scary.

But there's worse ahead. Soon we will hear the figures for car sales and it won't be pretty with warnings that they could drop 17.7% to the worst level in more than a generation.


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