Retailers, consumers and prices
Check out the latest batch of grim data about the U.S. jobs market.
As if the consumer sector wasn’t nervous enough about a sputtering U.S. economy, the number of people filing new claims for unemployment insurance unexpectedly rose in the latest week to its highest level in close to six months.
Labor Department data showed the number of new claims for jobless benefits up 2,000 at 484,000 in the week ended August 7, the second straight increase. Economists polled by Reuters had expected claims to fall to 465,000 from the previously reported 479,000.
The news brings more pain to already angst-ridden retailers, who are hoping to pass on rising input costs to consumers with higher prices as companies try to guard margins in a tepid sales environment.
In July, retailers posted weaker-than-expected sales despite cutting prices to lure back shoppers, suggesting a rough back-to-school season.
Check out more signs of improving consumer confidence.
According to a study released this week by Discover Financial Services U.S. consumers were getting more comfortable with their budgets. Also, slightly more consumers now believe they’d have money leftover after paying their bills to have fun with, hinting that consumers won’t be scrimping and saving quite as much.
“After months of cutbacks, we’ve seen two months in a row now in which consumer spending intentions appear to have stabilized,” said Julie Loeger, senior vice president of brand and product management for Discover, in explaining the findings.
Check out the strong earnings results from several companies in the consumer sector.
PepsiCo reported a rise in fourth-quarter earnings in line with expectations, stronger-than-expected sales and maintained its full-year outlook. The maker of Pepsi drinks and Frito-Lay snacks said the volume of snacks sold rose 1 percent, while beverage volume fell by the same amount.
Check out hopeful signs that the recession may be abating.
U.S. retail sales rose in May and the number of workers who filed new applications for jobless benefits last week fell for the fourth straight week.