DATA POINTS | 2.3.2011

RBC U.S. Consumer Outlook Index Posts Slight Decline
U.S. consumer confidence for February declined slightly for a second month as consumers await a definitive signal on the direction of the economy, according to the monthly RBC Consumer Outlook Index. The Index for February declined to 44.5, down 0.4 points from January’s 44.9 but still above the 42.6 points recorded a year ago. In line with the volatility in the municipal bond market, the survey also found that a majority of Americans are not confident in municipal bonds as an investment. “Although the RBC Consumer Outlook Index has done nothing but move sideways since hitting a post-recession high in December, it’s surprising that consumer confidence didn’t fall even more, given recent events,” said RBC Capital Markets Chief U.S. economist Tom Porcelli. “The survey was conducted in the midst of daily headlines about unrest in Egypt, rising fuel prices and a sharp decline in the markets – all of which historically weigh on confidence. It appears that the Index was backstopped by future expectations, which reached their highest level in a year. This suggests that consumers view current events as transitory and are willing to look past them.”
RBC (Royal Bank of Canada)/Feb 3

US Factory Orders For Dec 2010 Rise 0.2%
New orders for manufactured goods in December, up five of the last six months, increased $0.7 billion or 0.2 percent to $426.8 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today. This followed a 1.3 percent November increase. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 1.7 percent.
U.S. Census Bureau/Feb 3
US Nonfarm Labor Productivity Increases 2.6% in Q4:2010
Nonfarm business sector labor productivity increased at a 2.6 percent annual rate during the fourth quarter of 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. This gain in productivity reflects increases of 4.5 percent in output and 1.8 percent in hours worked.
U.S. Labor Dept/Feb 3
Services Sector Growth Picks Up Speed In January
The Institute for Supply Management reports that its index of non-manufacturing activity increased to 59.4 last month from 57.1 in December. That’s the fastest pace in more than five years.
Institute for Supply Management/Feb 3
January Retail Sales Rise 4.8%
Retailers weathered the storms in January, both literally and figuratively. Based on ICSC’s tally of 32 retailers that reported monthly sales, aggregate industry comp-store sales rose by 4.8% in January—besting our forecast. Although retailers were impacted by storms in the Northeast and Southeast, in particular, strength across the board helped to lift overall industry sales performance to its strongest monthly gains since November’s 5.4% year-over-year pace and finished the extended holiday season, fiscal quarter and fiscal year on a strong footing.
International Council of Shopping Centers/Feb 3