Monday, July 09, 2007

Last Week in the News

The nation's service economy expanded at a faster-than-expected pace in June, as the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said on July 5 that its index of business activity in the non-manufacturing sector registered 60.7, topping May's reading of 59.7 and Wall Street's forecast of 58.1. A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while one below 50 signals contraction. The June reading was the highest since April 2006, when it hit 61.1.

Output at U.S. factories, plants and utilities also expanded in June, the ISM reported July 2. The ISM's manufacturing index rose to 56 in June, above the May reading of 55, and higher than the market expectation of 55.4. The reading marked the fifth consecutive month of growth for the manufacturing sector.

Late payments on home equity loans -- payments that are 30 days or more past due -- rose to 2.15% in the first quarter of this year, up sharply from 1.92% in the final quarter of 2006, the American Bankers Association (ABA) reported July 3. On a brighter note, the ABA also reported that late payments on credit card bills dropped to 4.41% in the first quarter, down from 4.56% in the fourth quarter of 2006, the best showing in nearly a year.

The average rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell to a one-month low, Freddie Mac said July 5. Rates have ebbed in recent weeks as investors' fears concerning inflation have eased.
This week look for updates on the trade balance on July 12 and retail sales on July 13.

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