2/8/10 – theGrio & CNBC Market Update

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TheGrio and CNBC team up to deliver a weekly report of money matters and market updates for our community.

CNBC’s Shartia Brantley reports:

The first week of February had investors digest several key reports on the current state of the economy, but the most crucial was the report on employment from the Dept. of Labor. The national unemployment rate dipped to 9.7 percent in January, but since the recession began in December 2007, more than 8.4 million Americans have lost their jobs. African-American unemployment continued to rise, reaching 16.5 percent, while black teen unemployment remains the highest among any group, despite dropping to 43.8 percent.

This week, investors prepare for reports on business spending, retail sales, and consumer confidence.

The perspective of small business owners comes into focus with the January report on Small Business Economic Trends from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). The December 2009 survey showed more small businesses maintaining constant or smaller inventories despite expectations of improvement in the economy. The index reading of 88 (1986 = 100) was the fifteenth consecutive pessimistic reading as many companies reported decreased spending on expansion and capital improvement, due in part to tighter access to credit.

Larger businesses weigh in on their status with the December 2009 report on Manufacturing & Trade Inventories & Sales (MTIS) from the federal Economic Census, due Thursday. The November 2009 report continued an upward trend with a month-to-month increase of 0.4 percent, but remains 11 percent below last year’s levels.

Post-holiday retail sales numbers are also due Thursday from the Census Bureau. The Advance Retail Trade Report tracks anticipated sales of food, clothing, cars, and other goods for the coming month. The December 2009 advance report listed $353 billion in retail sales for the month, a 0.3 percent month-to-month decrease, but 5.4 percent above December 2008 sales.

Consumers express their outlook on the economy with the February Index of Consumer Sentiment Report (ICS) from Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan. Consumer sentiment is a subjective assessment of economic change, but is respected as an indicator of income perceptions and resulting household spending and saving trends. The January 2010 index of 74.4 (1964 = 100) showed the highest level of consumer confidence in more than two years as more households reported stabilizing finances.

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