Consumer confidence up
Consumer confidence will continue to pick up next month as an improving economic outlook and stable labor market encourage household spending, Gfk SE said yesterday. The Nuremberg-based market research company forecast that its consumer-sentiment index, based on a survey of about 2,000 people, would increase to 5.9 next month after rising to 5.8 in February. “German consumers anticipate that the economy will steadily improve in the coming months,” GfK said in an e-mailed statement. “It currently seems that the turning point in economic prospects has been reached.” A measure of economic expectations improved to minus-2.5 this month from minus-11.3 last month, approaching its long-term average of zero, GfK said. An index measuring willingness to buy rose to 37 from 35.3, while a gauge of income expectations eased to 31.8 from 36.
Current account in surplus
The nation posted a current account surplus of US$2.25 billion for last month on robust exports of mobile devices, autos and petrochemical products, the central bank said yesterday. The current account — the broadest measure of a country’s trade with the rest of the world, including investment returns — has been in the black for 12 straight months, including a revised US$2.14 billion surplus in December last year. Exports last month stood at US$45.7 billion, up 10.9 percent from a year earlier and 1.8 percent from US$44.9 billion in December. They were bolstered by increased shipments of flagship export goods such as mobile devices and cars. Imports last month also rose to US$45.2 billion compared with US$43 billion in December and US$43.5 billion a year ago. The services account, which covers non-goods trade such as travel and other services, posted a deficit of US$930 million on losses in the transport services industry.
JPMorgan to lay off 19,000
JPMorgan Chase & Co, the biggest US bank, will eliminate as many as 19,000 jobs in mortgages and community banking through next year, as CEO Jamie Dimon trims expenses. The lender, which had about 259,000 employees at the end of December last year, will cut 13,000 to 15,000 jobs in its mortgage unit and 3,000 to 4,000 in community banking excluding home lending through the end of next year, the company said on its Web site. Companywide headcount will shrink by about 4,000 people this year, mainly through attrition, while some employees will be redeployed to other areas, spokeswoman Kristin Lemkau said.
Home Depot beats forecasts
Home Depot Inc on Tuesday reported better-than-expected earnings, helped by a nascent recovery in the US housing market and rebuilding efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Net earnings rose to US$1 billion, or US$0.68 a share in the fourth quarter, from US$774 million, or US$0.50 a share, a year earlier. The results came on the same day the US Department of Commerce said sales of new single-family homes jumped 15.6 percent to a four-and-a-half-year high last month, raising hopes that the US housing market was recovering.The world’s largest home improvement chain also forecast higher sales and earnings per share for the current fiscal year, which analysts thought might even be conservative. It said it expected sales to rise about 2 percent and sales at stores open at least 12 months to increase about 3 percent this fiscal year.