The Edmond Sun

Business

November 21, 2013

Consumers' outlook improves after two-year low

WASHINGTON — American consumers became less pessimistic in November about the economic outlook as the effect of last month's partial government shutdown dissipated.

The gap between positive and negative expectations for the economy shrank to minus 14 from a two-year low of minus 31 in October, according to data from the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index released Thursday. The weekly measure of sentiment fell to minus 34.6 in the period ended Nov. 17 from minus 33.9.

Increased wealth from higher stock and home prices, cheaper gasoline and more employment opportunities are providing households with the means to boost purchases. A pickup in wage growth would provide an additional spark for spending, which accounts for almost 70 percent of the U.S. economy.

"Consumer sentiment has essentially reset compared to where it was prior to the government shutdown, which should assuage fears of a complete disaster during the holiday shopping season," said Joseph Brusuelas, a senior economist for Bloomberg LP in New York. Without bigger gains in wages, "it will be difficult for consumers to support spending beyond the modest levels observed in the third quarter."

The monthly expectations survey showed 23 percent of respondents said the economy was getting better, compared with 16 percent, the fewest in two years, who said so a month earlier. The share of those who said it's getting worse declined by 10 percentage points to 37 percent.

Two of the Bloomberg weekly gauge's three components weakened. The index of personal finances decreased to minus 2.1, the fifth negative reading in six weeks, from zero the prior week.

A gauge of Americans' view of current economic conditions fell to minus 63.7 from minus 62.5 the week before.

The buying-climate barometer rose to a five-week high of minus 38.2, as more households indicated that now is the time to make purchases. The gain may have reflected cheaper prices at the pump. A gallon of regular gasoline dropped to $3.18 on Nov. 11, the lowest level since February 2011, according to AAA, the biggest U.S. auto group.

Sales growth in categories like flooring and kitchens "reflects an emerging willingness among consumers to finally replace items that are worn or outdated, or to make significant enhancements to their homes," Lowe's Cos. Chief Executive Officer Robert Niblock said on an earnings call Wednesday.

Retail sales climbed in October by the most in three months, a report yesterday showed. The 0.4 percent increase exceeded the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.

To build on the October gains, some retailers such as Best Buy Co. said they will have to rely on discounting to lure customers. Best Buy will face an "increasingly promotional environment" in the fourth quarter as it plans to match rivals' online prices this holiday-shopping season, Chief Financial Officer Sharon McCollam said Nov. 19.

Thursday's figures continued to show a divergence in attitudes between the highest- and lowest-earning groups. The sentiment reading for those making $100,000 or more a year increased to 17.3, while it was minus 51.4 for those with incomes less than $50,000.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, compiled by Langer Research Associates in New York, conducts telephone surveys with a random sample of 1,000 consumers ages 18 and older. Each week, 250 respondents are asked for their views on the U.S. economy, personal finances and buying climate. The margin of error for the headline figure is 3 percentage points.

The percentage of negative responses is subtracted from the share of positive views and divided by three. The most recent reading is based on the average of responses over the previous four weeks.

The comfort index can range from 100, indicating every participant in the survey had a positive response to all three components, to minus 100, signaling all views were negative.

1
Text Only
Business
  • sales tax holiday.jpg Oklahoma sales tax takes a holiday

    Beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 1 and ending at midnight Aug. 3, Oklahomans will be able to participate in a sales tax holiday giving shoppers the opportunity to purchase certain clothing and shoes free of sales tax.
    Yes, retailers may not charge tax, including state and local sales taxes on items that are tax-exempt during the sales tax holiday weekend. The sales of clothing and shoes priced at less than $100 are exempted from sales taxes.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Karan & Rwanda.jpg Peace through Business empowering women entrepreneurs

    Peace Through Business is part of the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW) based in Oklahoma City. It is a program that connects small business entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda with business owners in Oklahoma. One such entrepreneur found out about the program from a friend, applied, and was accepted to take part in this year’s session.
    Upon earning a master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Universite de Sciences et Technique de Lille in Belgium, Lyliose Nduhungirehe began her career working for a construction company in Brussels, but she quickly switched paths to Information Technology.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Anderson Properties continues to grow

    Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties recently announced the acquisition of Tulsa-based Prudential Alliance Realty, an eight-office, 150-agent brokerage operating in Tulsa and Oklahoma City and Edmond.
    The transaction gives Anderson Properties, a full-service real estate agency a total of 38 offices and more than 600 agents.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County pays off jail tax early, seeks new one

    Logan County is paying off a sales tax ahead of schedule and needs a new one to be able to afford funding jail operation and maintenance, officials said.
    Citizens vote on the county sales tax which is split for redistribution by state law. The tax is collected by the Oklahoma Tax Commission and redistributed back to the county as specified by voters.
    In 2005, citizens passed a 10-year sales tax, scheduled to end next month, to fund the building, operation and maintenance of the county jail, which operates on a $1.3 million budget. Jail capacity is 188 without anyone in a holding cell or a temporary bunk. Thursday it was holding 130 inmates, said Logan County Chief Deputy Richard Stephens.

    July 26, 2014

  • Edmond School District’s change orders anticipated

    When building new schools and classrooms there may be additional costs, but when renovating older buildings those costs can more than double, according to a Edmond School District official.
    “When remodeling, you have unknown and hidden costs and you need to include in your budgeted funds for the built-in items you can not see,” said Bret Towne, Edmond’s associate superintendent of general administration.

    July 25, 2014

  • Planning Commission approves rezoning

    The Edmond Planning Commission this week voted 4-0 in favor of rezoning from a single family district.  Peter and Kimberly Roberts made the request to allow a planned unit development on the southeast corner of Jackson and Lincoln Avenue, said Bob Schiermeyer, city planner.
    “They would like to have D-2 family (neighborhood commercial) zoning for duplexes, 14,000 square feet,” Schiermeyer said. “They can put four units on the property.”

    July 25, 2014

  • A Q&A on ‘Obamacare’ Court Rulings

    On Tuesday, two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings on the legality of tax subsidies being provided to people who bought “Obamacare” health insurance policies in Oklahoma and 35 other states.
    Here’s a look at the rulings’ potential impact in Oklahoma.

    Q: I’m confused. What did the courts rule today?
    A: A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals circuit in Washington, D.C., decided that the government can’t provide tax subsidies for Affordable Care Act plans purchased in 36 states where the federal government is operating the health insurance exchange. Oklahoma is one of the 36 states. A few hours later, the U.S. Court of Appeals circuit in Richmond, Va., issued a conflicting ruling that upheld the legality of the health-care law’s tax subsidies.

    July 22, 2014

  • June healthy month for Oklahoma jobs

    Nearly 10,000 new jobs in Oklahoma were created in June, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
    Gov. Mary Fallin said Tuesday the state experienced one of the largest increases in employment in the nation in June. More than 9,600 additional people joined the state’s workforce in June.
    The unemployment rate in June dropped to 4.5 percent, its lowest ratio in six years. June’s rate was down a percentage point from 4.6 percent in May and April, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.

    July 22, 2014

  • UCO campus 3.jpg University of Central Oklahoma recognized as having friendly work environment

    The Chronicle of Higher Education named the University of Central Oklahoma as one of the “2014 Great Colleges to Work For.” Central is the only higher education institution in the state recognized on the list and one of only a handful of institutions in the nation given the distinction of being named to the Honor Roll for being cited most often among all the recognition categories.          
    Central joins Duke, Baylor and Notre Dame on the list of the 10 universities named to the large institution honor roll.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Council approves funds toward ADA update

    City Council members have approved a $398,800 professional services contract with Accessology, a McKinney, Texas, firm, to establish an Americans With Disabilities Act transition plan for the city.
    Title II of the ADA requires state and local governments to make their programs and services accessible to persons with disabilities. It includes access to government facilities, programs and events and relevant policy changes.
    Accessology was selected out of a pool of five finalists by a five-member committee to create Edmond’s plan. The firm will partner with Kimley-Horn and Associates, a design consulting firm located in North Carolina.
    Edmond’s last ADA transition plan was created in 1992.

    July 21, 2014

Stocks