Jennifer LawrenceJennifer Lawrence celebrated her 22nd birthday on Wednesday, but there have been many events worth celebrating this year for the blonde "Hunger Games" actress.
Sweden April Retail Sales Increase More Than Expected
RTTNews - Thursday, the Statistics Sweden said in a preliminary report that the retail sales increased 5% year-over-year in April, compare to the 2% fall in the preceding month. Economists were looking for an increase of 0.3%.
On a monthly basis, retail sales rose a seasonally adjusted 3.5% in April, after falling 0.3% in March. Economists had expected an increase of 0.3%.
For the February to April period, retail sales grew 1.3% compared to the previous three-month period.
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Obama says worst over, but debt fears roil markets
Concerns about the debt burden facing countries trying to spend their way out of the economic downturn spooked investors on Thursday despite optimism from President Barack Obama that the U.S. economy was past the worst.
It's safe to say we have stepped back from the brink, Obama told a fundraiser in Beverly Hills. There is some calm that didn't exist before.
But despite increasingly upbeat comments from policymakers, global markets have focused on the extra debt governments are taking on to fund their stimulus packages, ever since Standard & Poor's lowered its outlook for Britain's sovereign credit ratings to negative a week ago.
That prompted scrutiny of other major economies -- including the United States -- where concerns about the U.S. debt mountain sent Treasury prices and stocks tumbling on Wednesday.
Asian stocks fell in turn on Thursday and European bourses were expected to open lower, taking their cue from Wall Street's weakness.
Global markets are also watching developments in the U.S. auto industry, where General Motors Corp moved closer to filing the largest bankruptcy ever for a U.S. industrial company after a crucial bond exchange proposal failed.
GM said in a statement an offer to exchange $27 billion in bond debt for a 10 percent stake in a reorganized company by a midnight deadline had fallen far short of the 90 percent acceptance target.
GM FACES BANKRUPTCY, OPEL FUTURE UNCERTAIN
GM's board was expected to meet this week to consider the dwindling options available, but the company is widely anticipated to follow fellow U.S. automaker Chrysler into bankruptcy.
Chrysler faces a key court hearing on Thursday expected to clear the way for Fiat SpA, along with labor unions and the U.S. and Canadian governments, to take control of a restructured company in exchange for $2 billion paid to lenders.
The U.S. government-brokered bankruptcy for Chrysler has been seen as a test case for the more complex and larger filing expected from GM in the next few days.
In Germany, talks on shielding GM's European brand Opel from the looming bankruptcy of its parent ended without a resolution. German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck said he hoped a deal could be reached on Friday, but said there was surprise and disappointment with the stance of U.S. negotiators.
Ministers said the battle for Opel had narrowed to a two-way race between Fiat and Canadian auto parts company Magna. But choosing a final bidder for Opel and closing a deal could take months -- time neither the carmaker nor the German government have with GM's bankruptcy looming.
To tide Opel over, Germany has put together a 1.5 billion euro ($2.1 billion) aid package. But it has made this aid contingent on the U.S. government and GM agreeing to its plan to temporarily place Opel assets in a trust, a move that would protect its patents and technology from GM creditors.
Ministers said they expected answers from the United States by Friday to allow the bailout to proceed.
NEW ZEALAND'S DEBT IN THE SPOTLIGHT
In its annual budget on Thursday, New Zealand's government announced the biggest deficit in 25 years and forecast 10 years of government deficits, with debt peaking at 43 percent of GDP in 2016/17.
The government had been trying to give the economy enough of a boost to help deal with the worst recession in decades while avoiding boosting debt to a level that would have prompted a downgrade by the ratings agencies.
The risk of a downgrade appears to have been averted -- S&P upgraded its outlook for New Zealand to stable from negative after the budget, and Moody's affirmed its stable outlook.
The change in the outlook on the foreign currency rating reflects our view that the measures announced in today's budget will support stabilization in the government's fiscal position over the medium term, said S&P analyst Kyran Curry.
In Britain, outgoing central bank monetary policy committee member David Blanchflower said the world should not assume the worst of the economic crisis is necessarily over.
My worry is that there can be many false dawns and we shouldn't just assume that everything is over, the usually dovish economist told The Times newspaper.
We have to have a rethink. You're going to have to throw away lots of economics and start again. How can anybody not say that when we've had the greatest financial crisis in 100 years.
The head of South Korea's central bank also sounded a cautious note, saying it was still uncertain whether the green shoots of recovery in the financial markets and real economy will continue into full leaf.
His comments came despite a survey showing confidence at South Korean manufacturing firms had soared to a three-year high because of optimism about a global economic recovery.
(Reporting by Reuters bureaux worldwide; Writing by Andrew Marshall; Editing by Jerry Norton)
Gov. warns Myrtle Beach fires may continue to spread
A wildfire along the coast of South Carolina ripped through Myrtle Beach early Thursday, forcing 2,500 residents to evacuate their homes.
At least 40 homes have been destroyed and 100 damaged by fire that has consumed 15,000 acres, according to local paper, The Sun Times. No injuries have been reported.
Meanwhile, Gov. Mark Sanford issued a state of emergency for Horry County.
About 2,500 people have been evacuated in the North Myrtle Beach area, west of the Intracoastal Waterway, according to Nicole Aiello, a city spokeswoman.
It was like something out of a movie, Danielle Prater, 25, who woke her aunt and uncle at 1:30 a.m. after seeing flames several feet high racing through a neighbor's back yard.
I ran and got them and we got out of there as fast as we could.
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.
Gov. Sanford said the fire is continuing to spread and more people may be affected.
Click here for a photo gallery of the Myrtle Beach Fires.
Which Windows tablet is the best? -- ASUS EP121, Lenovo IdeaPad, CL900, Fujitsu, MSI WindPad, Viliv X70
Microsoft did not launch anything path-breaking at CES 2011, apart from confirming plans to craft its Windows OS specifically for the ARM chip design. However, a slew of tablets running on Windows 7 were launched at the event.
The primary distinguishing factor among the new offerings was the use of Intel's recently launched Oak Trail processor for tablets. While in the Android camp it's all about Nvidia Tegra 2 dual core, Intel's Oak Trail comes with promise of enhanced battery life for Windows tablets.
What stands out in the Windows camp is that most of the tablets flaunt a 10.1-inch and 12.1-inch form factor with the exception of Viliv X70 which is the smallest with a 7 inch display and is touted to be the thinnest Windows 7 tablet at 14.33 mm with a weight of 0.9 lbs. The tablet is the lightest compared to ASUS Eee Slate EP at 2.5 lbs, Motion CL 900 at 2.1 lbs and Fujitsu and MSI WindPad at 1.7 lbs. The tablet also offers a split keypad thus making thumb typing much easier.
The largest of the lot is the ASUS EP 121 with a 12.1-inch screen, flaunting a screen resolution of 1266x768. And though the slate uses the power optimized version of Intel's Core processor, the i5 470UM the strain of the increased configuration proportion shows in poor battery life returning a meager 3.5 hours.
On the 10.1-inch form factor Lenovo's IdeaPad Windows Slate, Fujitsu's unnamed tablet, Motion CL900 and MSI WindPad 100W share the spotlight. Apart from MSI WindPad, all others are powered by the Intel Oak Trail processor. The WindPad runs on the older Atom Menlow chip. It also sports a lesser resolution at 1024x600 compared to Motion CL900's 1366x768 and IdeaPad and Fujitsu's 1280x800 configurations.
Motion CL900, Fujitsu and Viliv X70 models flaunt dual camera's while all other offers single front facing cameras. Memory-wise, the playing field is uniform with all the Windows tablets offering 2GB RAM and 32 GB internal storage. The ASUS EP 121, however, does offer 4GB RAM for its 64 GB model.
Compared to Android tablets - apart from the Viliv - all the other models are heavier, with most of the Android tablets weighing between 1.6 lbs to 0.8 lbs while most of the Windows tablets are above 1.6 lbs. One of the Android's 10.1-inch form factor flaunting tablet, the Motorola Xoom weights about 1.6 lbs.
The major caveat in Windows tablets is the size, weight and battery life issues, as the OS requires a much larger architecture which is confirmed by the specifications of the recently launched tablets.
However, the best of the lot - if the loopholes are taken into account - is the Viliv X70 which is the lightest and the thinnest of them all. It also offers a battery life of 6.5 hours which is good for a Windows tablet though not comparable to Android tabs that offer battery life in the range of 7 to 16 hours like the Motorola Xoom, which offers 10 hours in battery life. It does fall short in resolution compared to others at 1024x600 but offers the best of Windows which includes the Oak Trail chip and dual camera.
Also, the Windows 7 tablets' cameras are of lesser configuration compared to Androids' with most of them offering 5MP front facing cameras compared Windows 2MP and 3MP. Like the impressive Motorola Xoom offers 5MP rear facing and 2 MP front facing camera.
However, the Windows tablets score on the ubiquity realm offering the familiarity of its Windows OS to users.
Here is a comparison of the Windows 7 tablets launched at the CES 2011:
|ASUS Eee Slate EP 121||Lenovo IdeaPad Windows 7 Slate||Motion CL900||Fujitsu (Unnamed)||MSI WindPad 100W||Viliv X70|
|OS||Windows 7||Windows 7||Windows 7||Windows 7||Windows 7||Windows 7|
|Processor||Intel Core i5 470UM||Intel Oak Trail 1.5 GHz||Intel Oak Trail 1.5 GHz||Intel Oak Trail 1.5 GHz||Intel Atom Menlow 1.66 GHz||Intel Oak Trail 1.5 GHz|
|Memory||32 GB/ 64 GB||32 GB||30 GB/ 62 GB||N.A||32 GB||32 GB/ 64 GB|
|RAM||2 GB/ 4GB||2 GB||2 GB||2 GB||2 GB||1 GB/ 2GB|
|Camera||2 MP||2 MP||3 MP rear and 1.3 MP front||Dual camera||Front facing camera||3MP rear, 1.3 MP front|
|Battery||3.5 hrs||6 hrs||8 hrs||N.A||N.A||6.5 hrs|
|Weight||2.5 lbs||N.A||2.1 lbs||1.7lbs||1.76 lbs||0.9 lbs|
Brazil Jobless Rate Rises In March
Friday, Brazil's statistical office IBGE announced that the jobless rate stood at 9% in March, up from 8.5% in the previous month. The jobless rate came in line with economists' expectations. A year ago, the jobless rate was 8.6%.
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Fiat says still in talks on Chrysler, posts loss
Italian industrial group Fiat SpA
Final terms for this transaction continues to be negotiated with the U.S. Treasury and other relevant stakeholders, it said in a statement in which it also announced a first-quarter trading loss of 48 million euros.
If negotiations are concluded successfully, final terms will be set on or before April 30, 2009, it said.
Fiat made no mention of General Motors Corp's
The website of German news magazine Spiegel said Fiat would sign a letter of intent next Tuesday to buy a majority stake in Opel. Fiat and Opel declined to comment.
Fiat shares were up 0.6 percent at 7.52 euros at 1031 GMT (6:31 a.m. EDT). The DJ Stoxx auto index <.SXAP> was down 0.71 percent.
Fiat is working hard to get the support of Chrysler's reluctant creditors and unions to close the deal.
If it fails to clinch a deal by the deadline, the U.S. government is threatening to let Chrysler go bankrupt.
(Reporting by Gilles Castonguay; editing by John Stonestreet)
Philip Morris profit beats Street; backs '09 view
Marlboro cigarette maker Philip Morris International Inc
The company, whose overseas sales value has been hurt by the stronger U.S. dollar, said cigarette shipment volume of 203.4 billion units was unchanged, with gains in Asia -- driven by Indonesia and Korea -- and Latin America and Canada.
The world's largest publicly traded tobacco company said it expects 2009 earnings of $2.85 a share to $3 a share. In February, Philip Morris said that the stronger dollar would cut earnings by 80 cents a share in 2009.
Philip Morris was spun off from Altria Group Inc
But since its sales come from outside the United States, it is more vulnerable to fluctuations in the dollar than other U.S. companies.
First-quarter earnings at Philip Morris were $1.52 billion, or 74 cents a share, compared with $1.72 billion, or 79 cents a share, a year earlier.
Analysts on average had expected earnings of 69 cents a share, before special items, according to Reuters Estimates.
The company's cigarette shipment volume of 203.4 billion units was unchanged in the quarter.
Net revenue fell about 6 percent to $5.6 billion.
Philip Morris shares were up about 1.4 percent, or 50 cents, at $36.75 in trading before the opening bell.
Shares of Altria Group Inc
(Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan in Bangalore; Editing by Derek Caney, Dave Zimmerman)
Economic Woes Could Trigger Sharp Break in Aussie Dollar
The Australian Dollar could be looking at a sharp selloff as signs are out there that investors are focusing more on the Australian economy than the higher yields offered by the market. Even the stock market rally on Wednesday could not encourage risk hungry traders to go after the higher yielding AUD USD. This is clearly a sign of developing weakness and is likely to trigger further downside pressure as traders are shifting their needs from return on capital to return of capital.
News that Australian inflation fell to 2.5% after a three month increase of 3.7% sent a message to investors that the Reserve Bank of Australia may be poised to take aggressive action to revive the economy. Expectations are for the RBA to do all it can to stimulate the economy including additional stimulus spending, quantitative easing or an intervention.
Last week's news that China€™s economy was contracting and that exports were falling is still casting a bearish pall on the Aussie. Wednesday's report that showed Japanese exports had fallen for the sixth straight month compounded the bearishness.
The fundamentals are pointing toward lower markets but the charts still indicate the market is in an uptrend. This means that in order to attract fresh selling pressure the AUD USD has to fail on the next retracement that tests the top at .7326.
The NZD USD is facing issues similar to the Australian Dollar. With the economy showing signs of weakness, investors know the Reserve Bank of New Zealand has to take action to prevent the on-going recession from deepening and widening. Most traders are calling for quantitative easing or an intervention as the best short-term solution. The RBA may cut rates again since they have room to do so, but the speed of the decline in the economy will most likely counteract a slow-moving interest rate reduction.
The New Zealand economy is reliant on exports, but the recent rise in the Kiwi caused by traders chasing higher yields, has made New Zealand goods too expensive. Furthermore, news that both China and Japan's exports were down is also an indication that demand for New Zealand goods will fall. The future does not look too bright for the New Zealand economy but things could turn around if China announces another stimulus plan.
The U.S. Dollar weakened versus the Japanese Yen on Wednesday. Traders were mixed in their opinion as to why the USD JPY fell. Some felt it was caused by flight-to-quality buying because of lingering U.S. banking issues. Others felt that although Japan's exports were down from last month, they were slightly better than last month. This news was interpreted as the start of possible bottoming action.
Smart money realizes that exports are still down and that the market is far from a recovery. This is why any substantial rally will be met with renewed selling pressure.
The Canadian Dollar closed lower today in a volatile two-sided trade. Several times throughout the New York session, the market traded on the plus side only to be met with selling pressure which drove it lower.
Traders seemed reluctant to take a major position ahead of an important Bank of Canada announcement report. On Thursday, the BoC is set to reveal its plans for quantitative easing. Traders are waiting to see the amount and duration of the new plan. In addition, the BoC is expected to reveal the means to stimulate the economy.
Traders know the method will be unconventional but aren't sure if it will be accomplished through the purchase of sovereign debt, corporate debt or bank securities.
The news that the U.K. budget deficit would soar to 175 billion Pounds encouraged selling pressure all day in the GBP USD. Not only was the deficit a massive amount, but it accounted for 12% of the GDP. The addition of a new 50% tax for high earning individuals added additional selling pressure to the market. Why the government would create a new tax at a time of economic contraction befuddled traders most of the day and no doubt led them to pile on the short side of the market.
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Little Movement Expected For Malaysian Stocks
One day after ending the eight-day winning streak in which it gained nearly 60 points or 6.5 percent, the Malaysian stock market turned right back to the upside again on Wednesday. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index again failed to close above resistance at 970 points, but investors are confident the market will get another crack at that level on Thursday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is mixed with a touch of downside, thanks to a series of disappointing quarterly reports. Financials are expected to remain under pressure, although some of the bigger exporters and technology stocks may provide support. The European stock markets finished sharply higher and the U.S. markets ended mostly lower - and the Asian markets are predicted to see equal dichotomy.
The KLCI finished slightly higher on Wednesday, as gains among the financials, plantations and utility stocks was largely offset by weakness among the industrial issues.
For the day, the index was up 1.98 points or 0.20 percent to close at 968.58 after trading between 968.58 and 976.29. Volume was 1.1 billion shares worth 1.04 billion ringgit, with gainers outnumbering decliners 360 to 262.
Among the gainers, IOI Corp was up 1 percent and Axiata Group added 1.02 percent, while Time dotCom, Lion Diversified, Lion Industries, Maybank, Bumiputra-Commerce, Sime Darby and Tenaga Nasional also finished higher. Bucking the trend, Proton and KNM Group finished lower.
The lead from Wall Street is modest pessimism as stocks experienced considerable volatility over the course of the trading day on Wednesday, with the major averages unable to sustain any significant moves. The choppy trading came as investors continued to digest mixed earnings news.
Early on in the session, traders reacted negatively to quarterly results from Morgan Stanley (MS), which became one of the few major financial companies to report weaker than expected first quarter results. Morgan Stanley reported a much wider than expected first quarter loss of $0.57 per share and revealed that it has slashed its quarterly dividend by 80 percent to $0.05 a share.
Separately, Boeing (BA) reported first quarter net income of $610 million, down 50 percent from last year quarter's $1.21 billion. Revenues for the quarter rose 3 percent to $16.5 billion from last year's $15.99 billion. Looking forward, the aerospace giant reaffirmed its full year revenue guidance but lowered its earnings guidance due to lower earnings at its commercial airplanes business.
Meanwhile, fast food giant McDonald's (MCD) reported first quarter net income of $0.87 per share, compared to $0.81 per share in the same quarter of last year, while analysts expected the company to report earnings of $0.82 per share.
In other news, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner spoke to the Economics Club of Washington earlier in the day, hinting that policymakers might be forced to alter their recovery strategies as the global financial crisis drags on. He explained that the revised estimate from the International Monetary Fund for global growth could spark a change in policy. The IMF lowered its 2009 outlook, now predicating a contraction of 1.3 percent for the year compared to its previous estimate of 0.5 percent growth.
The major averages pulled back sharply going into the close, with the Dow and the S&P 500 falling firmly into negative territory. While the NASDAQ managed to hold onto a modest gain, closing up 2.27 points or 0.1 percent at 1,646.12, the Dow closed down 82.99 points or 1.0 percent at 7,886.57 and the S&P 500 closed down 6.53 points or 0.8 percent at 843.55.
In economic news, Malaysia's Department of Statistics said on Wednesday that the consumer price index rose 3.5 percent year-over-year in March, slower than the 3.7 percent increase in the previous month. Economists were looking an increase of 3.6 percent. Food and non-alcoholic beverages prices rose 8.8 percent annually in March, while clothing and footwear prices dropped 0.6 percent. Transport charges were down 2.1 percent.
Month-on-month, the CPI declined 0.2 percent in March, in contrast to a 0.2 percent rise seen in February. During the January to March period, consumer prices grew 3.7 percent compared to the same period of the previous year.
Also, Malaysia's total gross international reserves stood at US$87.7 billion as on April 15, slightly down from US$87.8 billion as on March 31, the Bank Negara Malaysia said Wednesday. The central bank said the reserve position is sufficient to finance 8.1 months of retained imports and four times the short-term external debt.
In the week ended April 15, foreign currency reserves amounted to US$81.7 billion, while the reserves with the IMF totaled US$0.4 billion. Gold reserves stood at US$0.4 billion, while the SDRs were US$0.2 billion. Other reserve assets amounted to US$5 billion.
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Euro declines ahead of bond selling in Portugal
The European common currency pared some of its earlier gains before the announcement of results of the Portuguese auction that will include the sell of 10-year bonds repayable in 2014 and 2020 today to raise as much as 1.25 billion euros.
Meanwhile, Portugal is under the spotlight because of speculations raised this week that Portugal will become the third euro area country to get an aid from eh EU and IMF.
Tomorrow, Spain will sell five-year bonds worth 3 billion euros and Italy intends to gather 6 billion euros through auctioning bonds due 2026 and 2015, ahead of European Finance Minster's meeting next week.
Data released today from the euro area and Germany gave a boost to the euro after the upbeat announcements yesterday that Japan will buy 20% of European bonds to support highly indebted nations in the region.
Euro zone industrial production exceeded forecasts in November while the German economy expanded 3.6% in 2010 where deficit budget as a percentage of GDP reached 3.5%.
Concerning the euro-dollar pair, it fell on the 4-hour and 1-hour charts to pull the daily candle down close to the daily opening at 1.2980. The euro fell after coming close to strong resistance at 1.3060.
So far, the pair has recorded a high of 1.2983 and a low of 1.2963, while the trading range for today is among the key support at 1.2800 and the key resistance at 1.3200.
Moving to the royal pair, it pared its earlier advance as it fell to 1.5600 pushed down after the data showing that UK visible trade deficit widened in November to 8736 million pounds from the revised 8591 million pounds.
The pair has recorded a high of 1.5599 and a low of 1.5594, whereas the trading range for today is among the key support at 1.5510 and the key resistance at 1.5800.
With regard to the dollar-yen pair, it dipped on the daily charts to 83.14 but facing upside pressure form the 4-hour and 1-hour charts.
So far, the pair has recorded a high of 83.40 and a low of 82.96, whereas the trading range for today is among the key support at 81.05 and the key resistance at 84.25.
Qualcomm, Broadcom in settlement talks
Wireless chip maker Qualcomm also said that its revenue and operating income for its second fiscal quarter of 2009 met or exceeded its prior guidance, sending its shares up 4 percent.
Qualcomm and Broadcom have been involved in extended legal battles related to technology patents.
(Reporting by Sinead Carew)
Christopher Nolan says Leonardo DiCaprio is demanding
Christopher Nolan, the director of ‘Inception’, is all praises for Leonardo DiCaprio’s demanding nature during the making of the film.
He said in an interview that Dicaprio’s exacting standards helped him work out where in ‘Inception’ the emotional importance of the story is.
Nolan said that he always wanted to work with the 36-yer-old star and was delighted when he agreed to appear in his movie.
Christopher said: Leo is someone I had been trying to work with for years. I'd met him many times and nothing had come together, but I finally managed to convince him with this one and he brought an incredible amount of emotional focus to his character.”
Both Leonardo and Nolan are known to stick to the same set of people to work with. Christian Bale has been a favourite with Nolan he has worked with him in three projects.
Leonardo has had a tremendous year career wise in 2010. He is the highest earning Hollywood actor with two biggest box-office draws to his credit-‘Inception’ and ‘Shutter island’. Leonardo gets innumerable movie offers but he says that he has pretty high standards when it comes to agreeing to do projects.
He explained: I want it to be special and really original. For me, the three elements there have to be are; it has to be a great script, with a great director and great people to work with. That's what I want and I guess it would sum up the dream for any actor.
He has made the right career moves and his choice of scripts has been exceptional. His partnership with Martin Scorsese has seen him act in ‘The Aviator’, ‘Gangs of New York’ and ‘The Departed’ and ‘Shutter Island’. He is planning a biopic on Frank Sinatra with him.
Nolan himself is no mean director. He has critically acclaimed films, ‘The Prestige’, ‘Insomnia’ and ‘Batman Begins’ and ‘The Dark Knight’ to his credit. For him to credit Dicaprio with helping him in finding the emotional quotient for the character in inception is indeed high praise for Leonardo.
EUR/USD - Euro Dollar, European Session - 21/04/09
- 1,2950 - 1,3020
- 1,2890 - 1,2800
US economic outlook 2011
Many economists believe that US economy will continue to grow around 3.5 percent in 2011, led by pickup in consumer and business spending. The extension of Bush-era rate cuts will add moderately to GDP growth, while at the same time as increasing the budget deficit.
US economy grew just less than 3 percent and unemployment hovered just below 10 percent for the year 2010, while stock markets recorded good gains with the S&P 500 rose about 12 percent, the Dow gained more than 10 percent and Nasdaq advanced around 16 percent.
US economy is expected to grow around 3.5 to 4 percent range in the year 2011 compared to just under 3 percent growth recorded in the year2010. The economy will derive more of its growth from revived consumer and business spending and Personal consumption expenditure (PCE).
Consumer spending accelerated to 3 percent in the third quarter of 2010 compared to 2 percent pace in the previous quarters. Economists forecasting that it could accelerate up to 4 percent in the fourth quarter on back of strongest holiday season since 2005. But at present consumer confidence remains at low so there is a much scope to improve in sentiment which will improve consumer spending.
PCE is contributing between 0.7 percent and 2 percent to overall growth. The component has gained for five consecutive quarters and is expected to grow around 1.9 percent in 2011.
On the other side, financial contagion from Europe, budget problems at state and local governments, and falling house prices all could lead to slower U.S. growth.
With around 3.5 percent expected growth in 2011 would probably be enough to bring the 9.8 percent November unemployment rate down only to about 9 percent. The Labor Department said that initial jobless claims fell to their lowest level in almost two-and-a-half years, suggesting the labor markets might be improving.
The unemployment rate may also face upward pressure even as the economy strengthens as many Americans giving up looking for work on due to the weak job market. If the economy strengthens they may rejoin the labor force but cannot find jobs immediately, which would boost the unemployment rate.
To achieve the unemployment rate equal pre-crisis levels the decline in manufacturing sector must be reversed. The size of the manufacturing sector has shrunk dramatically, and manufacturing employment is down to about two-thirds of its 2000 level.
Interest rates are expected to continue at low levels for an extended period of time. The Fed funds rate will stay at 0-0.25 percent throughout the year as policymakers have stated clearly that it may 3-4 years for unemployment rate to return to acceptable levels.
On the other side, by keeping interest rates at all-time low levels, the U.S. faces the potential for a second major financial crisis. If the governments continue with near zero level interest rates it increases the chance that governments will over-borrow and fall into a debt trap.
Stronger U.S. economy and rising commodity prices will drive inflation up around 2 percent or more in 2011compared to 1 percent in 2011. Inflation is currently running at 1 percent (year-over-year), roughly half the rate that the Fed is targeting. The Fed has an implicit inflation goal of 2 percent.
The Fed's November 3 decision to buy an additional $600 billion worth of government bonds to stimulate the economy and prevent prices for spiraling lower would probably cause inflation excluding food and energy to exceed 2 percent by 2012.
Housing sector is the one area need to improve a lot as it has been dragging the economy for the four straight years. But in third quarter residential investment constituted its lowest proportion of overall economic activity suggest that any further contract in the sector will show minimal impact on the growth.
The simple truth is that the economy is not strong enough to support a decent recovery in housing demand. The unemployment rate remains high, income growth remains low. It may take years for excess housing inventory to be weeded out, but eventually those vacant homes will be filled up and construction activity will need to rise.
GBP/USD - British Pound Dollar, European Session - 21/04/09
- 1,4590 - 1,4700
- 1,4470 - 1,4360
Jennifer Lawrence celebrated her 22nd birthday on Wednesday, but there have been many events worth celebrating this year for the blonde "Hunger Games" actress.
With her role as Katniss Everdeen in the box office blockbuster "The Hunger Games," Lawrence was thrust into fame as one of the biggest movie stars out there today. So much that it has been reported the starlet was offered a cool $10 million to reprise her role in the sequel, after the first in the series brought in $670 million worldwide.
But Lawrence is no amateur, despite the Louisville, Ken. Born star's young age. At 20, the blonde was nominated for an Oscar for her role as Ree in "Winter's Bone." At that awards show in 2011, Lawrence piqued the interest of the fashion glitterati with a killer dress: red maillot gown with a keyhole back from Calvin Klein Collection, voted in the top ten on many best-dressed lists. Lawrence walked the red carpet at the Kodak Theater for the 83rd annual Academy Awards with as much poise and grace as some of the veterans out there.
And we haven't seen it all from Lawrence, either. The bombshell also has two other major films coming out this year: a thriller directed by Mark Tonderai called "House at the End of the Street" on Sept. 21 and "Silver Linings Playbook" opposite Bradley Cooper on Nov. 21. She is also working on "X-Men: Days of Future Past" in which she will play Raven.
She's even rounded out her career by posing for the September issue of Vogue, where she donned a red Michael Kors swimsuit and a Diesel Black Gold jacket. The actress spoke about her whirlwind acting career thus far, namely the paparazzi who follow her.
"I pity the paparazzi. There are only so many pictures they can take of me on the boardwalk in Santa Monica," she said.
Perhaps she's referring to the countless photos of her coming and going from the gym in Los Angeles recently, with the media speculating that she must be gearing up for her upcoming roles.
In honor of the starlet's 22nd birthday, take a look back at photos of some of Jennifer Lawrence's best style moments.=