Monday, July 12, 2004

Did you blink? Well, you might have missed the Bush boom:

Retail sales slowed in June. Auto purchases declined. Several technology companies warned about weak software and hardware spending at the end of the second quarter.

Less than three years since the United States emerged from a recession, a patchwork of unexpectedly soft economic reports is raising doubts about the vigor of the recovery.

... stock prices have faltered since the end of June, as corporate earnings have disappointed investors....

Signs of the end of consumers' exuberance have popped up in several areas. Year-over-year growth in spending slowed to 4.1 percent in May, in real terms, the slowest pace since January....

June was also sour for automakers. The General Motors Corporation reported sales that fell 15 percent and the Ford Motor Company reported an 8 percent drop from the same month a year earlier. Citing the "difficult new vehicle retail environment that we are operating in," AutoNation Inc., America's largest automotive retailer, trimmed its earnings forecasts for the second quarter.

...New orders of nondefense capital goods, excluding aircraft, fell 2.1 percent in April and 3.5 percent in May. And business spending on technology has seemingly remained weak. Since the beginning of July, 32 technology companies have issued warnings of lower second-quarter profits, according to Thomson First Call, while only one has increased its earnings projections.

..."Now the only real positive for the consumer is income and job growth," Mr. Harris at Lehman said. "If the labor market really slows down it would be a blow to the consumer and we could talk of growth slipping to below trend."...

--New York Times

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