America Celebrates Thanksgiving As Economy Settles

28 November 2002

Turkeys excepted, Thanksgiving Day marked good news for the US with a range of economic indicators suggesting the nation is now well along the freeway to recovery.

Data released Wednesday shows unemployment payment claims down, manufacturing activity up, and US consumers more bullish about the future. Most important of all, shoppers have unzipped their purses.

On the markets, the day before Thanksgiving is traditionally quite. Not so Wednesday, when all the main stock indices closed 3 percent up after lively trading. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 reached their highest levels in three months, while the Nasdaq Composite hovered around the 1,500 mark – its best performance since June.

On the human front, the Labor Department reported that new unemployment payment claims slid to a 21-month low of 365,000 last week, falling below the recession tidemark of 400,000 from a September high of 433,000.

Holiday tidings too from the Commerce Department, which revealed that orders for US durable goods [products with an intended lifetime of three years-plus], rose 2.8% in October following September’s 4.6% backslide. This coincided with upbeat data from the Chicago Purchasing Managers’ Index (a survey of Midwestern manufacturers), which soared to 54.3 this month from 45.9 in October – a shift that suggests the sector has moved from contraction to growth.

Lastly, consumer confidence is again on a bull-run. The closely watched University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment reported Wednesday a rise to 84.2 this month from 80.6 in October.

Cranberry sauce, anyone?

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff