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February Out Like A Lamb, Deloitte Says


Economic indicators pointed to all things positive in February, according to the Deloitte Consumer Spending Index released today.

The index tracks consumer cash flow by evaluating tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices. The results are used to predict future consumer spending.

Rising to 4.02 percent in February from 3.92 percent in January, Deloitte’s index showed initial unemployment claims were slightly down with a four-week claims average coming in at 400,000. Real wages and real home prices rose slightly as well. Tax burdens are on the upswing as economic recovery takes hold, and jobs become more plentiful.

February may prove to be the eye of the storm, however, as March’s upheavals continue to blow. Between gas prices skyrocketing over concerns of unrest in the Middle East, and the tsunami and nuclear disasters unfolding in Japan, global markets remain volatile.

“Despite the small gains in the index, the recent sharp rise in energy prices could weaken consumer purchasing power in the months ahead,” said Carl Steidtmann, Deloitte’s chief economist and author of the monthly index. “The stabilization in real home prices may also be temporary given the persistent strain on the housing market. On the upside, should the slow but steady improvement in employment continue, it may help offset price increases.”

U.S. stock markets continue to bump along, opening down on Monday with energy stocks experiencing heavy trading.


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