Make us your home page
Instagram

Sifting economic data yields few clues on direction

Several reports released Wednesday painted a mixed picture of the U.S. economy. While the recent savage storm that hit the East Coast dented retail sales, hopeful signs could be seen in other data. Here is a summary:

Hurricane Sandy combined with cautious consumers to lower retail sales in October and raise concerns about weaker economic growth and a tepid holiday shopping season.

Retail sales dropped 0.3 percent last month after three months of gains, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Sales at auto dealers fell 1.5 percent, the most in more than a year. The storm depressed car sales in the Northeast at the end of the month, economists said.

Online and catalog purchases fell 1.8 percent, the most in a year. Widespread power outages prevented some online shopping.

The Federal Reserve sent a strong signal that it could announce a new bond-buying program in December to try to spur job growth.

Minutes of the Fed's Oct. 23-24 policy meeting suggest it may unveil a Treasury-buying plan to replace a program that expires at year's end. Under the existing program, called "Operation Twist," the Fed has been selling $45 billion a month in short-term Treasurys and using the proceeds to buy longer-term securities.

The minutes show support among the Fed's policymakers to replace Twist with another program of bond purchases.

Wholesale prices dipped 0.2 percent last month, the Labor Department said Wednesday. It was the first decline since May and followed big gains of 1.1 percent in September and 1.7 percent in August, increases that had been driven by spikes in energy.

Energy prices retreated a bit in October, dipping 0.5 percent, but food costs were up 0.4 percent as the summer drought continued to put pressure on some food prices.

Core prices, which exclude food and energy, fell 0.2 percent in October, the biggest drop in two years.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that U.S. businesses increased their inventories 0.7 percent in September. Retailers, manufacturers and wholesale distributors all boosted their stockpiles. Their sales rose 1.4 percent in September — the most in more than a year.

Companies typically increase their stockpiles when they anticipate sales will rise in coming months.

Faster restocking helps drive economic growth.

Sifting economic data yields few clues on direction 11/14/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 8:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  2. New owners take over downtown St. Petersburg's Hofbräuhaus

    Retail

    ST. PETERSBURG — The downtown German beer-hall Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg has been bought by a partnership led by former Checkers Drive-In Restaurants president Keith Sirois.

    The Hofbrauhaus, St. Petersburg, located in the former historic Tramor Cafeteria, St. Petersburg, is under new ownership.
[SCOTT KEELER  |  TIMES]

  3. Boho Hunter will target fashions in Hyde Park

    Business

    Boho Hunter, a boutique based in Miami's Wynwood District, will expand into Tampa with its very first franchise.

    Palma Canaria bags will be among the featured items at Boho Hunter when it opens in October. Photo courtesy of Boho Hunter.
  4. Gallery now bringing useful art to Hyde Park customers

    Business

    HYDE PARK — In 1998, Mike and Sue Shapiro opened a gallery in St. Petersburg along Central Ave., with a majority of the space dedicated to Sue's clay studio.

     As Sue Shapiro continued to work on her pottery in St. Petersburg, her retail space grew and her studio shrunk. Now Shapiro's is bringing wares like these to Hyde Park Village. Photo courtesy of Shapiro's.
  5. Appointments at Raymond James Bank and Saint Leo University highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers

    Business

    Banking

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Jackson will oversee all of Raymond James Bank's operational business elements, risk management and strategic planning functions. Kackson joins Raymond James Bank after senior …

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. [Company handout]