US Recovery: Surveys Send Mixed Signals

29 August 2002

More uncertainty over the US economic recovery: durable-goods orders increased sharply in July, but in August consumer confidence hit its lowest level for nine months.

New figures from the Commerce Department show that orders for durable goods – products built to last upward of three years – jumped 8.7% in July, the largest leap since October and a recovery from June’s 3.8% drop.

Particularly impressive was the 13.7% surge in non-defence orders, which are regarded as an indication of business investment.

However, many analysts took the figures with a pinch of salt, warning that such orders tend to be highly variable month-to-month and that one increase alone does not make a recovery.

Justifying such caution, New York research group the Conference Board announced that its closely watched consumer confidence index dropped from 97.4 in July to 93.5 this month – the lowest reading since November.

Data sourced from: The Washington Post Online; additional content by WARC staff