Monthly Market Review: February 2012

February 2012 in Review

Overall, while being far from “out of the woods”, the US economy showed some signs of life through February with positive growth, lower unemployment, and improved home sales.  Remember that now may be the perfect time for you to review your asset and portfolio management.  Protecting your wealth while it grows is a significant aspect of overall financial health.  Learn more at http://www.temeculafinancialplanner.com

Here are some key economic statistics from February:

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics said U.S. payrolls added 243,000 jobs in January, bringing the unemployment rate down to 8.3%. It was the fifth straight month of lower unemployment.
  • The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3% in Q4 2011, a more rapid pace than the 2.8% initial estimate. Once again, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said inventories were a major contributor, though consumer spending and commercial construction also were up.
  • Congress agreed to extend through the end of 2012 both the 2% payroll tax reduction and long-term unemployment benefits.
  • Though housing starts, new residential construction, and home resales all improved during the month (they were up 1.5%, 1.5%, and 4.3% respectively) the good news didn’t extend to home prices. The S&P/Case-Shiller national index of home prices hit its lowest point since its mid-2006 peak.
  • Manufacturing data was mixed. The Commerce Department said durable goods orders fell, mostly because of a drop in orders for commercial aircraft, but the Fed’s surveys of the New York and Philadelphia regions hit their highest levels in months.
  • Inflation at the wholesale level rose 1% in January, putting the rate for the past 12 months at 4.1%. However, not all the increases made their way to the consumer level; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, consumer inflation was up 0.2% for the month and 2.9% for the last year. Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said retail sales rose a modest 0.4% in January.

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