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Highlights of US economic data

Sunday, January 6, 2008

WASHINGTON (Thomson Financial) - A synopsis of US economic indicators to be released this week, with forecasts provided by Thomson's IFR Markets.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 8

Tuesday will begin with the release of November's pending home sales index, which is expected to drop to -0.5 from 0.6 in October. "There's still weakness ahead in housing," said Joshua Shapiro of MFR. "We haven't reached bottom yet."

Later in the day is the release of November's consumer credit, which is expected to have jumped 9.0 bln usd following a 4.7 bln increase in October.

Economists from Lehman Brothers said increases in consumer credit in the month of November were probably "led by a pick-up in revolving or credit card debt". They explained revolving credit accumulation has increased over the last year-and-a-half as more consumers turn to credit cards when they struggle to borrow against their home equity. "As such, the holiday shopping season will likely translate to a rise in revolving debt over the next few months," the economists said.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 10

The Labor Department on Thursday morning will release the weekly jobless claims figures. The number of individuals filing first-time claims for unemployment in the week ending Jan 5 is expected to total 340,000 following 336,000 in the previous week. The number of individuals who continue to receive unemployment insurance in the week ending Dec 29 is expected to total 2.750 mln, down from an over two-year high of 2.761 mln.

"With the recent up-tick in the rate of unemployment to 5.0 pct and the anaemic increase in payrolls to 18,000, this may be the most closely watched data release of the week," said Joseph Brusuelas of IDEAglobal.

Also on Thursday is the release of November's wholesale inventories, which are expected to have increased 0.3 pct after remaining unchanged in October.

"While expectations of weaker growth will likely cool inventory demand, the current low level of stocks relative to sales in the wholesale sector suggests that outright contraction remains unlikely," said economists from Lehman Brothers.

Wholesale sales for November are expected to have increased by 0.3 pct after a 0.7 pct increase in October.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 11

The US international trade debt for November is expected to rise to 58.6 bln usd from 57.8 usd in October. "Rising crude oil prices likely pumped imports," said Sal Gautieri of BMO Capital Markets, but soft domestic demand and higher food prices "will provide a partial offset".

Brian Bethune of Global Insight said it is "not a good overall development to have price increases in key imports like petroleum".

Import prices are not expected to increase in December after rising 2.7 pct in November. Joshua Shapiro of MFR said he will pay attention to the figure's non-fuel component, which he says "has shown signs of life" over the last couple of months. "It will be interesting to see if those rises continue," he added.

Also on Friday is the release of the US budget, which is expected to have increased in December to 50.0 bln usd from 42.0 bln in November. "We look for a rebound in the budget balance in December as calendar effects played a role in boosting the deficit last month," said economists from Lehman Brothers.

Posted by MOHAMED SAID at 11:48 PM  

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