SKY News Summary 01-26-12
New orders for manufactured durable goods in December increased $6.2 billion or 3.0 percent, higher than the market estimate of 2.2 percent. This increase follows a 4.3 percent increase the month before. Excluding transportation, new orders increased a healthy 2.1 percent. Unfilled orders for manufactured durable goods rose by 1.5 percent which indicates more activity in factories in the foreseeable future. Nondefense new orders for capital goods in December increased $4.6 billion or 5.8 percent to $84.4 billion.
Initial jobless claims in the week ending January 21, rose by 21,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 356,000. But the 4-week moving average, which eliminates the swings in employment after the holidays, dropped by 2,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 380,000.
Sales of new single-family houses in December 2011 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 307,000, according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 2.2 percent below the revised November rate of 314,000 and is 7.3 percent below the December 2010 estimate of 331,000.
The median sales price of new houses sold in December 2011 was $210,300; the average sales price was $266,000. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of December was 157,000. This represents a supply of 6.1months at the current sales rate.
An estimated 302,000 new homes were sold in 2011. This is 6.2 percent below the 2010 figure of 323,000.
Sources: Census, DOL
Consumer credit jumped significantly in November, up almost $25 billion, or 9.9 percent from the month before. Nonrevolving credit, mostly car loans, rose 10.7 percent, while revolving credit rose a respectable 8.5 percent. These numbers seem to indicate consumer confidence in employment.
Diageo has completed the acquisition of the Meta Abo Brewery Share Company SC, a leading beer company in Ethiopia, for $225 million. The acquisition will give Diageo access to the rapidly growing Ethiopian beer market, which is expected to grow at more than 10 percent per year through 2015, driven by strong GDP growth and increased disposable income.
Exelon Wind’s Michigan Wind 2 Project, Exelon’s first wind project, is now in commercial operation. Over the first 20 years, Michigan Wind 2 is expected to generate over $12 million of revenue to the area through local tax payments.
GE Healthcare’s presentation at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference:
HP announced that Henry Gomez will join the company as executive vice president and chief communications officer, reporting to Meg Whitman, HP president and chief executive officer. Mr.Gomez will be responsible for HP’s media and industry analyst relations, executive communications, employee communications, government affairs, environment and global social innovation. He spent most of the last decade working at eBay, where he served in a variety of roles including senior vice president for Corporate Communications and president of Skype.
IBM’s recent report on the U.S. online retail sector showed this sector grew by 7.5 percent in December 2011 compared to the same period last year, following strong growth for both Black Friday 2011 and Cyber Monday 2011. The report also showed that 14.6 percent of all online sessions on a retailer’s site were initiated from a mobile device, more than double the rate of 5.6 percent over this same period in 2010. Apple’s iPhone and iPad ranked one and two for mobile device retail traffic (5.2 percent and 4.3 percent respectively). Department stores’ online sales were up 18 percent over December 2010. http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/36472.wss
Medtronic received FDA approval and completed its U.S. market launch of a remote glucose monitor, which allows a parent or caregiver to monitor from another room a patient’s glucose levels.
Sources: Medtronic, IBM, HP, GE, Exelon, Diagio, and Federal Reserve websites
Although it’s never fun, it’s time to think about this year’s taxes. Here are some thoughts that may actually make the process easier and less painful:
• First, April 15, 2012 is a Sunday. Returns would normally be due the next day, Monday the 16th, but this is a holiday in D.C. (Emancipation Day). So, this year taxes are due April 17.
• Many of us experienced business and personal losses from natural disasters this year (think Irene and Alfred). These losses are considered casualty losses for federal tax purposes and are generally deductible in the year of the loss. However, you can choose to treat the loss as having occurred in 2010 and report them on an amended 2010 tax return.
• For the third time in six years, the IRS announced a mid-year adjustment to the business standard mileage rate because of rising gas prices. The business mileage rate increased from 51 cents/mile to 55.5 cents/mile in July 2011. This rate will stay the same at least for the first part of 2012. The medical/ moving rate increased from 19 cents to 23.5 cents/mile and the charitable standard mileage rate remains at 14 cents/mile.
• In September of 2011, the IRS issued guidance on the treatment of employer-provided cell phones. It says that when an employer provides an employee with a cell phone primarily for noncompensatory business reasons, the use of the phone is nontaxable to the employee and the IRS will not require recordkeeping of business use to receive this tax-free treatment.
• After December 2011 many popular temporary tax breaks (called extenders) expired, including teachers’ classroom expense deduction, state and local sales tax deductions, transit benefits, and, for businesses, the research tax credit. These extenders are separate from the Bush-era tax cuts which are scheduled to expire after 2012. For example, effective immediately, the monthly limit on the tax benefit for transit and vanpools which last year was $230 per month drops to $125 in 2012. However, the monthly limit for qualified parking provided by an employer will actually increase to $240 in 2012.
• Last, but not least, Congress passed a bill to cut the IRS’s FY 2012 budget by $305 million. Hopefully, that will not affect customer service during filing season!
Sources: CCH Website http://www.cchwebsites.com/memberupdate/jan2012/
The new year is starting out with an economic bang!
The ISM report showed manufacturing growing in December at a slow and steady pace. The PMI rate of 53.9 compared to November’s reading of 52.7 percent. Happily, new orders rose again for the third month following three months of contraction. Inventories are contracting and employment is rising.
The Census Bureau announced that construction spending for the month of November improved by 1.2 percent from the prior month, coming in at $807 billion. This is 0.5 percent ahead of November 2010, but is still historically low. Residential construction rose 2.0 percent after rising 3.5 percent in October. Public construction rose 1.7 percent after falling 5.3 percent in October. Construction of public power structures rose 22 percent.
The National Football League announced that CBS has been awarded a new nine-year broadcast rights agreement that runs through the 2022 season. In the new deal, CBS Sports remains the broadcast home of the NFL’s American Football Conference (AFC). In addition, as part of the NFL’s expanded “flexible scheduling,” CBS will also broadcast games from the National Football Conference (NFC). This will be the first time CBS will broadcast AFC and NFC matchups in the same season. CBS will broadcast Super Bowl L in 2016, Super Bowl LIII in 2019 and Super Bowl LVI in 2022, in addition to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans in 2013.
Aujan Industries and The Coca-Cola Company announced an agreement for The Coca-Cola Company to acquire approximately half of the equity in Aujan’s existing beverage business. This $980 million transaction will provide Saudi Arabia-based Aujan Industries a platform to accelerate the international growth of the Aujan brands, including Rani and Barbican. This transaction represents the largest-ever investment by a multinational firm in the Middle East’s consumer goods sector. Aujan holds a top-three position in still beverages in every country in which it operates and is one of the top 100 companies in Saudi Arabia with total annual revenues exceeding $850 million.
Sources: Coke, Census, CBS, and ISM websites