Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Business

Positive signs show growth may be on the rebound

WASHINGTON — Businesses are growing more confident in the economy, investing in more equipment and laying off fewer workers.

Government figures on manufacturing and unemployment claims released Thursday raised hopes on the eve of a report on how much the economy grew in the October-December quarter.

Still, 2011 ended up as the worst year on record for new home sales, a reminder that the economy has a long way to go.

"Business optimism seems to be picking up, which is critical to the growth and competitiveness of the U.S. economy over the long haul," said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial.

Orders for manufactured goods expected to last at least three years rose 3 percent last month, the Commerce Department said. And demand for goods that indicate business investment plans hit an all-time high.

A tax break that expired in December for large equipment purchases may have helped boost orders. Still, many economists said most companies are likely buying equipment simply because business is improving.

Manufacturers "have a real need to ramp up their spending on capital improvements … because the economy is growing and industrial capacity has not kept up," said Carl Riccadonna, an economist at Deutsche Bank.

That growth was evident after Caterpillar said its fourth-quarter profit jumped 60 percent. And 3M, which makes everything from Post-It Notes to Scotch tape, said sales in its industrial and transportation unit rose 14 percent in the fourth quarter. The increase was driven by parts for cars and planes.

In December, orders for core capital goods rose to a record $68.9 billion. That's more than 45 percent higher than the recession low hit in April 2009.

"With big-ticket spending rising and the labor market firming, the economy is a lot better than some central bankers think," said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors.

Companies are also laying off fewer workers, which has some economists optimistic about job growth in January.

Weekly applications for jobless claims rose last week to a seasonally adjusted 377,000. But that followed a week in which they fell to near a four-year low. And the longer-term trend is pointing to a healthier job market.

The four-week average has declined to 377,500. When applications fall consistently below 375,000, it tends to signal that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate. The nation has added at least 100,000 jobs for six straight months.

Growth likely accelerated in the final three months of the year to a 3 percent annual pace, according to a survey of economists by Factset. That would be an improvement over the 1.8 percent pace in July-September quarter, and a relief after seeing 0.9 percent growth in the first half of last year.

The Commerce Department will report the actual figure today.

Housing remains the weakest part of the economy. New home sales fell 2.2 percent last month, and total sales for 2011 were the lowest on records dating back to 1963.

Still, sales of new homes rose in the final quarter of 2011, supporting other signs of a slow turnaround that began at the end of the year.

"A sustained rise in new-home sales is imminent," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at High Frequency Economics. "Home builders say so too, and they should know."

Comments
Yes, we have some bananas: Port Tampa Bay welcomes first shipment in 21 years

Yes, we have some bananas: Port Tampa Bay welcomes first shipment in 21 years

TAMPA — More than two decades after the last bunch arrived on shore, bananas are back at Tampa’s port. More than 3,900 pallets of Chiquita bananas from Ecuador arrived last week at the new Port Logistics Refrigerated Services warehouse.It was the fir...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Guess co-founder steps aside after allegations from Kate Upton

Guess co-founder steps aside after allegations from Kate Upton

Associated PressNEW YORK — Guess Inc. says that co-founder Paul Marciano will give up his day-to-day responsibilities at the clothing company until a sexual misconduct investigation is completed. Model and actress Kate Upton told Time magazine earlie...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Grocery retailer Albertsons to buy drugstore chain Rite Aid

Grocery retailer Albertsons to buy drugstore chain Rite Aid

Associated PressThe privately held owner of Safeway, Vons and other grocery brands is plunging deeper into the pharmacy business with a deal to buy Rite Aid, the nation’s third-largest drugstore chain. Albertsons Companies is offering either a share ...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Following deaths from Irma, Florida looks to new rules for keeping nursing homes cool after outages

Following deaths from Irma, Florida looks to new rules for keeping nursing homes cool after outages

After national headlines and a public outcry over the deaths of 14 people at a Broward County nursing home after Hurricane Irma, nursing homes across the state are working to comply with new rules requiring them to have back-up power.But the process ...
Published: 02/20/18
Yoshi — car maintenance that comes to you — launches in Tampa Bay

Yoshi — car maintenance that comes to you — launches in Tampa Bay

A California-based company that promises to bring limited on-site car maintenance directly to you — from an oil change to a fill-up — has picked Tampa Bay as its next pit stop."Anything that your car needs, we’re going to bring to you," said Nick Ale...
Published: 02/20/18

Hernando Business Digest for Feb. 23

Business digestEventsCHAMBER RIBBON-CUTTINGS: The Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce will have two ribbon-cuttings in the coming week:• Access Health Care Physicians/Dr. Janice Rodriguez, 5290 Applegate Drive, Spring Hill, 10 a.m. Feb. 23. C...
Published: 02/20/18

Pasco Business Digest for Feb. 23

Business digestBrieflyLOCAL COMMUNITY RECOGNIZED: CHUY’S RESTAURANT TO OPEN: Chuy’s, the Austin-based Tex-Mex restaurant, will open its first Tampa Bay area location this spring near Cypress Creek Town Center in Wesley Chapel. The restaurant at 25750...
Published: 02/20/18
Steve Wozniak charms USF crowd: ‘The human or the technology — what’s more important?’

Steve Wozniak charms USF crowd: ‘The human or the technology — what’s more important?’

TAMPA — Steve Wozniak, the inventor of the Apple personal computer, is the tech genius who sounds less like an engineer, more like a philosopher.Startups? They can be a lot of fun — if started up for the right reason."The purpose should never be, thi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Epilogue: Tourism community remembers Paradise founder Cedar Hames

Epilogue: Tourism community remembers Paradise founder Cedar Hames

When Cedar Hames spoke, you listened.He was a natural storyteller, always dressed sharp to match his wit and natural elegance. He grew a two-person business in St. Petersburg into a leading tourism, advertising and marketing agency over an esteemed 3...
Published: 02/19/18
Updated: 02/20/18
St. Petersburg set to rename main library after President Obama

St. Petersburg set to rename main library after President Obama

ST. PETERSBURG — Speaking in front of a small crowd gathered on the front lawn of the city’s main library, Mayor Rick Kriseman announced Monday that the facility will get a $6 million renovation and be renamed in honor of President Barack Obama.The a...
Published: 02/19/18