Consumer confidence plunged in February to a record low as concerns about jobs, income and the economy worsened considerably, according to the monthly Conference Board index. The February consumer confidence index (released Tuesday this week)fell to 25 from 37.4 in January. Most Analysts had expected a reading of 36.0.
Consumers' expectations also fell to a record low, with those anticipating fewer jobs in coming months rising to 47.3% from 36.9%. Additionally, those expecting "worse" business conditions also increased, hitting 40.5% from 31.1%, and those expecting more income fell to 7.6% from 10.3%.
Taken as a whole, the Conference Board's data are "breathtaking," said Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist with High Frequency Economics.
Home Prices Continue to Plunge:
Fourth quarter 2008 S&P/Case Shiller National Home Price Index (the most widely watched measure of U.S. home prices) fell at a record pace - off 18.2%, as cheap prices failed to offset declines in income and available credit.
The decline in the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index - which covers all nine U.S. census divisions - recorded an 18.2% decline in the 4th quarter of 2008 versus the 4th quarter of 2007, the largest in the series' 21-year history. The 10-City and 20-City Composites also set new records, with annual declines of 19.2% and 18.5%, respectively.
The worst performing cities continue to be from the Sunbelt. Phoenix was down 34.0%, Las Vegas reported -33.0% and San Francisco fell 31.2%.
Initial Jobless Claims Skyrocket:
All signals point to one of the very worst reports ever for next week's monthly jobs data. Initial claims for the Feb. 21 week jumped 36,000 to 667,000 - the highest level in 26 years (prior week revised 4,000 higher to 631,000). Continuing claims are the worst ever, up 114,000 to 5.112 million in a reading that indicates the time it takes for the jobless to find work is increasing.
Cratering New Home Sales:
Sales of new single-family homes fell 10.2% in January to an annual rate of 309,000 units - a new record low and a total drop of 78% from the peak in July 2005 - the largest peak-to-trough decline on record!
Meanwhile, there was a 13.3-month supply of new single-family homes in the market in January - also a new record!
Durable Goods Orders Drop for Sixth Consecutive Month:
Durable goods orders in January fell for a record six consecutive months. Durable goods orders plunged 5.2 percent in January, following a 4.6 percent drop in December. The fall in January was far worse than the consensus forecast for a 2.5 percent decrease.
Year-on-year, overall new orders for durable goods are down 23.3 percent in January.
Overall, the January durables report indicates that the recession in manufacturing is getting worse. This will further tug down on the overall economic growth and further impact jobs and income in the consumer sector
PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE GLOOMY ECONOMIC DATA HOWEVER - BERNANKE WAVED HIS MAGIC WAND AND STATED RECESSION WILL END SOON:
Stocks rebound on Bernanke's economic assessment
Soothing words from Federal Reserve chief Ben S. Bernanke helped the stock market rebound Tuesday from a plunge to 11-year lows - If the financial crisis eases, Bernanke stated, there is "a reasonable prospect" that the recession will end this year and that a discernible recovery will get underway in 2010.
Results: The Dow jumped 236.16 points and both the S&P and Nasdaq rose about 4% after the Federal Reserve chief comments.
Damn! Why did I waste all that time finding/posting this data? I should have just posted Bernanke's Comments!