Friday, June 22, 2018
Business

Some promise for future in economic numbers

WASHINGTON — A spate of data Thursday painted a mixed picture of the U.S. economy: Demand for long-lasting manufactured goods fell and slightly fewer people signed contracts to buy homes. At the same time, the job market looked only a little better.

Taken together, the reports suggest the economy is growing only modestly, not quickly enough to spur much hiring.

"The economy overall has only weak forward momentum," Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight, said in a note to clients. "The news from housing may be improving, but manufacturing is struggling now."

Most of the data seemed discouraging on the surface. But a closer inspection of the details offered some promise.

• Companies cut orders for long-lasting goods by 13.2 percent in August, the Commerce Department said. That was the biggest drop in more than three years, but it was largely influenced by a 102 percent decline in volatile aircraft orders. Excluding transportation equipment, orders fell only 1.6 percent. And in a positive sign, orders in a category that reflect business investment plans rose 1.1 percent, the first increase since May.

• The overall economy grew at a 1.3 percent annual rate in 2012's second quarter, much lower than the 1.7 percent the government previously estimated. About half of the downward revision stemmed from the severe drought in the Midwest, which cut overall farm output. But growth also failed to reach estimates because exports and consumer spending expanded at a slower pace.

• The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy previously occupied homes fell in August from a two-year high in July. The National Association of Realtors said its index of sales agreements declined 2.6 percent to 99.2. That's just below the reading of 100 that is considered healthy. Still, the index is 10.7 percent higher than a year ago.

• Weekly applications for unemployment benefits plunged 26,000 to a seasonally adjusted 359,000, the lowest level in two months, the Labor Department said. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell to 374,000.

Applications are a measure of the pace of layoffs. When they consistently fall below 375,000, it typically indicates that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.

Economists were mildly encouraged by the unemployment applications. But many still expect the government's employment report for September to show only modest job gains, perhaps about 100,000. That's about the same as in August.

The September jobs report will be released Oct. 5.

A survey of chief executives, released Wednesday, found a sharp drop in the number of large companies that plan to step up hiring or boost investment in the next six months. They cited worries over tax and budget policies in the United States and slower growth in Europe and China for the gloomier outlook.

Some recent indicators have been more optimistic. Consumer confidence jumped to a seven-month high in September, the Conference Board said Tuesday. Home prices are rising steadily nationwide.

And sales of new homes remained near a two-year high in August, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

Comments
Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

TAMPA — CareSync, a Tampa health care information technology company that raised millions from private investors in recent years, has shut down. The company ceased operations on Thursday, laying off nearly 300 people, according to former employees an...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pride divided no more: St. Pete Pride comes back together

Pride divided no more: St. Pete Pride comes back together

ST. PETERSBURG — The 16th annual St. Pete Pride Parade is getting ready to march along the downtown waterfront the second straight year. But many hope to move past the division caused last year when the parade was uprooted from its original hom...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Brink: Why have Florida’s working-age men left the labor market in droves

Brink: Why have Florida’s working-age men left the labor market in droves

A cancer lurks within Florida’s otherwise rosy job numbers, one that’s has been called a quiet catastrophe and an intractable time bomb.Too many men between the ages of 25 and 54 have stopped working.Economists call those the prime-age years. Incomes...
Updated: 2 hours ago
For sale: A Tampa Bay area elementary school where you can eat tacos and buy wine

For sale: A Tampa Bay area elementary school where you can eat tacos and buy wine

ST. PETERSBURG — For sale: a 104-year-old elementary school with restaurant and wine shop. It even has a title company where you can close the deal.Less than a year after completing a major renovation of the historic North Ward school, developer Jona...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Domain Homes: Buyers love them, some others don’t

Domain Homes: Buyers love them, some others don’t

TAMPA — When the 2008 financial crash brought down the nation’s housing market, hundreds of home builders went out of business. Among them was Sharon McSwain Homes in Atlanta, forced to liquidate in 2009.But just as developers like to develop, builde...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Armature Works developers sue Ulele and city of Tampa over use of nearby building

Armature Works developers sue Ulele and city of Tampa over use of nearby building

TAMPA — Two of the city’s hottest developers — the companies behind Ulele and the Armature Works — are heading to court over control of an old city building that sits between the hit eateries. Both want to redevelop the city&...
Published: 06/21/18
Orlando airport first to scan faces of U.S. citizens on international flights

Orlando airport first to scan faces of U.S. citizens on international flights

Associated PressFlorida’s busiest airport is becoming the first in the nation to require a face scan of passengers on all arriving and departing international flights, including U.S. citizens, according to officials there. The expected announcement T...
Published: 06/21/18
Saboteur or whistleblower? Battle between Elon Musk and former Tesla employee turns ugly, exposing internal rancor

Saboteur or whistleblower? Battle between Elon Musk and former Tesla employee turns ugly, exposing internal rancor

Hours after Tesla had sued its former employee on charges he had stolen company secrets, and days after chief Elon Musk had called him a saboteur, the Silicon Valley automaker made a startling claim. The company had received a call from a friend of t...
Published: 06/21/18
WTR Pool and Grille brings ‘fun dining’ pool party scene to Tampa

WTR Pool and Grille brings ‘fun dining’ pool party scene to Tampa

Mike Piper has traveled to Las Vegas and Miami and enjoyed the fun, daytime, party pool scene that the two cities have to offer.Now he aims to bring that same atmosphere to Tampa with a new dining and hang out spot. WTR Pool & Grill opened on Sunday ...
Published: 06/21/18
Grace Family Church gives thrift stores an upgrade in South Tampa

Grace Family Church gives thrift stores an upgrade in South Tampa

A new resale store has made its way to South Tampa. Grace Family Church recently opened Vintage Etc., to provide affordable, quality merchandise to the community and continue its outreach to help families in need in a loving Christian environment. "W...
Published: 06/21/18