The US recovery continues to pick up steam, as the latest consumer confidence index comes in well above expectations.
US consumer confidence is at a two-year high, according to a survey from a private forecasting group.This
The Conference Board said its index of shoppers' confidence rose to
101.9 in June, from 93.1 in May.
This was well above expectations for a reading of 95.0 this month, and
the highest since June 2002.
The New York-based group said the new outlook was largely down to an
improved jobs situation, and that consumers expected "healthy" economic
growth. Favourable outlook
Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of all US economic activity.
"Looking ahead, consumers expect the economy to continue to grow at a
healthy clip and to continue to generate additional jobs," said Lynn
Franco, director of the Conference Board's consumer research centre.
"And with prices at the pump beginning to ease, the short-term outlook
remains favorable," she added.
The board said that the percentage of consumers who said jobs were hard
to get fell to 26.5 from 30.3, the lowest in 2004, while those saying
jobs were plentiful rose to 18.0 from 16.6.
really is wonderful news, not just for America but for the rest of the
world, and as I've said before, it's looking increasingly likely that
the upcoming presidential elections will be fought primarily over
foreign policy rather than the state of the economy.
What's particularly encouraging is that despite a recent statistical blip or two, the picture in Japan is also looking quite positive on the whole.
Japan's economy expanded at an annualised rate of 6.1% inWith
the first three months of this year, compared with 3.9% in the US.
Japan has been benefiting from strong economic growth in Asia, and
particularly in China.
A Finance Ministry report showed last week that the value of Japan's
exports exceeded that of its imports by 934 billion yen ($8.6bn) in
May, a 35% increase on the year.
That foreign demand has helped to drive growth at a time when Japan's
domestic demand is stubbornly subdued. [............]
Bright spotThe best jobless figures in almost 4
years, however, helped to buoy optimism on Tuesday that consumers will
pick up their spending in coming months.
According to the Home Affairs Ministry, the unemployment rate fell to
4.6% in May from 4.7% the previous month.
"The job data was very strong," said Hiroshi Yokotani, an economist at
Tokio Marine Asset Management.
"This is the first time the jobless rate has been on a declining trend
since the bursting of the economic bubble (at the start of the 1990s),"
the world's two biggest economies enjoying a revival at the same time,
it's reasonable to expect that some of the economic good news will
touch Continental Europe as well. Whether the continent's structural
rigidities will permit the mass of the unemployed to benefit from the
improving global economy is another question altogether.