CHICAGO — PROMPTED BY a lower unemployment rate and a favorable report from the Federal Reserve concerning the annual banking stress test, the Dow Jones industrial average reached 14,400 for the first time during the first week of this month. U.S. investors showed their support of the growing economy by trading more, and European stocks also reached their highest point since 2008, based on the good news from the United States.
ACCORDING TO THE BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS, the ranks of the employed swelled by 236,000 in February, and the unemployment rate nudged down to 7.7%. Increases came in professional and business sectors, along with construction and healthcare industries.
“This … report shows a resilient economy continuing to recover,” said Acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris after the release of the February figures. “February marks three uninterrupted years of private-sector employment growth, with a total of 6.4 million jobs created over that time.”
PENDING HOME SALES also showed an increase in January, across all regions of the United States. The National Association of Realtors reports that figures have been above the previous years’ numbers for the past 21 months. The industry’s data is at its highest reading since April 2010.
SHOPPING CENTERS ALSO REPORTED a gain nationally. The U.S. shopping center industry’s income for the fourth quarter of 2012 was up 3.6% from 2011, according to a report from the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries and the International Council of Shopping Centers. The industry also reported a lowering of operating expenses by 2.4%.
THE LATEST NON-MANUFACTURING Institute of Supply Management’s Report on Business included this from Anthony Nieves, the chair of the ISM’s Non-Manufacturing Business Survey Committee: “The NMI registered 56% in February, 0.8 percentage point higher than the 55.2% registered in January.” The report indicates that growth was reported by 13 non-manufacturing industries.
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE released data focused on the rate of export sales in 2012. Twenty-nine states set new records, and 35 states reported growth in 2012 of total merchandise exports. Jobs supported by exports were up by 9.8 million, an increase of 1.3 million since 2009.
THE LATEST BEIGE BOOK from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System was also positive. Twelve Federal Reserve Districts reported modest to moderate growth since the previous report. Five districts reported moderate January and early February growth, five noted modest growth, one district indicated the economy expanded slowly, and one district reported a slow pace for economic growth. Expansion was seen in consumer spending, and automobile sales were strong in most districts. Tourism was also reported as being on the rise.