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New Numbers Show Economy May be Better Than Earlier Thought

June 14, 2013

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While not all the recent numbers that measure the health of the U.S. economy are glowing, they are not as bad, and in some cases much better, than analysts were expecting during this second quarter.

Consumer confidence dipped this month from a six-year high reported in May.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment declined to 82.7 in June from 84.5, which was the highest since July 2007.

The decline was centered in the current conditions index, which looks at Americans’ views of their personal finances. The measure dropped to 92.1 from 98 in May, the highest since August 2007.

In contrast, the index of expectations six months from now climbed to 76.7, the highest level since November.

A separate government report shows industrial production was unchanged in May after having decreased 0.4% in April. Manufacturing production rose 0.1% after falling in each of the previous two months, and the output at mines increased 0.7% The gains in manufacturing and mining were offset by a decrease of 1.8% in the output of utilities.

Total industrial production in May was 1.6% above its year-earlier level. The rate of capacity utilization for total industry edged down 0.1% point to 77.6%, a rate 0.2% point below its level of a year earlier.

A third report revels prices at the wholesale level posted their first increase in May, according to a new U.S. Labor Department report, indicating greater demand.

The 0.5% hike follows a 0.7% decline in April, which was the largest drop in three years.

This report came a day after the U.S. Commerce Department reported retails sales in the U.S. during May increased 0.6% following a 0.1% increase in April. The figure was higher than a consensus estimate from a poll of economists and an indication the U.S. economy may be doing better in the second quarter than some analysts have been saying.

The performance was led by a 1.8% jump in sales of automobiles and light trucks, with eight of the 13 categories the department measures showing an increase. Compared to a year ago, retail sales are 4.3% higher.

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