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Economic Update 10/06/14

JOBLESS RATE DECLINES TO 5.9%

Unemployment lessened another 0.2% in September as firms added 248,000 new workers to their payrolls. The nation hasn’t seen joblessness of less than 6% since July 2008. In presenting its latest report, the Labor Department also revised summer hiring totals: the August job gain went from 142,000 to 180,000, and the July gain went from 212,000 to 243,000. The U-6 rate (underemployed & unemployed) also fell 0.2% last month to 11.8%, a 71-month low.

ISM GAUGES DIP

In September, the Institute for Supply Management’s factory PMI retreated to 56.6 from the prior 59.0. Its service sector PMI also pulled back, with a reading of 58.6 compared to 59.6 in August. Analysts polled by MarketWatch had anticipated both indices descending to 58.5, but both September readings indicate strength.

PENDING HOME SALES DOWN 1.0% FOR AUGUST

For four out of the previous five months, the National Association of Realtors had reported increases in the number of Americans signing contracts to buy homes. Is this dip a hint of a cooler housing market this fall? In other real estate news, July’s S&P/Case-Shiller home price index showed an overall 6.7% annualized.

CONSUMERS SPEND MORE, WITH LESS CONFIDENCE

Personal spending rose 0.5% for August, according to the Commerce. Yet the Conference Board consumer confidence index took an unexpected September slip, falling 7.4 points to 86.0.

A CHOPPY START TO THE NEW QUARTER

Volatility is definitely back: big swings characterized the market last week. The Dow fared best, losing 0.60% to settle at 17,009.69 Friday. The NASDAQ (-0.81% to 4,475.62) and S&P 500 (-0.75% to 1,967.90) saw slightly larger descents.

THIS WEEK: Earnings season begins: Family Dollar kicks things off Monday evening, and Tuesday brings Q3 results from Yum! Brands. Wednesday, the minutes from the September Federal Reserve policy meeting will be released, complementing earnings from Alcoa, Costco, Ruby Tuesday, Safeway and Monsanto. Thursday offers the latest initial jobless claims numbers, August wholesale inventories data and Q3 results from PepsiCo; additionally, a G20 meeting begins in Washington, D.C. Friday, earnings arrive from Fastenal and Infosys.

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