Positive data suggests US economy picking up faster than rest of world

Ben Southwood
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THE US economic recovery may now be on a firmer footing, a raft of data releases yesterday suggested, in stark contrast with more gloomy world conditions.

Business activity improved in September, hitting zero on the Chicago Fed’s national activity index, up from minus 1.17, implying economic growth rates close to long-term trends.

New orders of durable goods also bounced back from a downbeat August picture, according to data from the US Census Bureau, climbing 9.9 per cent into September to hit $218.2bn (£135.4bn), after August’s 13.1 per cent collapse.

And new unemployment benefit claims plummeted 23,000 in a week, hitting 369,000 on the seasonally adjusted measure, the Department of Labour said, though this data is for the week ending 20 October. This plunge clawed back a large chunk of the 50,000 jump seen in the previous week.

Contracts to buy previously owned homes were less positive, rising just 0.3 per cent on the month, data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed, well under expectations of around 2.1 per cent, but economists still expected a generally upward trend.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said: “With positive underlying market fundamentals [home sales] should continue on an uptrend in 2013.”