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Double-dip recession fears ease with flurry of positive reports

The positive jobs numbers released Friday (see Page 1A) were just the latest in a string of encouraging national and local economic reports released this week. Still fretting about a possible double-dip recession? This might allay your fears . . . at least for now.

Auto sales

U.S. auto sales jumped to 12.8 million in 2011, the best year since 2008, when General Motors and Chrysler Group were seeking federal bailouts. For December alone, Chrysler posted a 37 percent rise, while Ford sales were up 10 percent and GM sales were up almost 5 percent.

Bankruptcies

For the first time in six years, bankruptcy filings fell last year. Nationwide, bankruptcy filings dropped 12 percent to 1.38 million, according to an American Bankruptcy Institute report. Florida's snapshot was even stronger, with filings falling 16 percent to 93,000, the lowest total since 2008.

Manufacturing

Output at U.S. factories grew in December at the fastest rate since June, according to the Institute for Supply Management. New orders, production and employment all grew faster than in November.

Retail sales

Retailers collectively reported a 3.5 percent increase in December sales for stores open at least a year, the International Council of Shopping Centers reported. More purchases went on credit cards, indicating consumers are becoming more confident to spend.

Office vacancies in Tampa Bay

The region's office vacancy rate dropped to 19 percent in 2011, a level not seen since early 2009. Local vacancy rates typically hover between 12 and 20 percent.

Construction

The construction industry nationwide spent more on projects for the third time in four months. The better-than-expected gains in housing construction were spurred in part by mortgage rates near record lows.

Compiled by Jeff Harrington, Times staff writer

Double-dip recession fears ease with flurry of positive reports 01/06/12 [Last modified: Friday, January 6, 2012 10:19pm]
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