Positive economic news last week, despite impending “cliff”

If you’re interested in keeping up with details about the economy but don’t have the time or interest — or the stomach — to follow daily developments, then you might want to make a point of reading Bill McBride’s weekly summaries that appear every Saturday on his blog.

From this week’s<Calculated Risk: Summary for Week ending Dec 21st:

The economic data released this week was encouraging. The November Personal Income and Outlays report suggests PCE might increase over 2% in Q4 – not great, but higher than most forecasts.

The housing numbers were solid. Housing starts are on pace to increase about 25% this year, and, for existing homes, inventory is down sharply and conventional sales up.

Other positives include Q3 GDP being revised up, the highest Architecture Billings Index since 2007, a rebound in the trucking index, a decline in the 4-week average of initial weekly unemployment claims, and another increase in builder confidence.

Manufacturing was still weak, but two of the three regional surveys were slightly better than expected. A negative was consumer sentiment, and that is probably related to the “fiscal cliff” debate in Washington that is still showing no signs of progress. I expect an agreement, but not until early January (although it could happen sooner). Next week will be a light week for economic data, but there are two key housing reports – new home sales and Case-Shiller house prices.

That post is accompanied by great graphs so that you can get a better sense of long-term trends, unfiltered by media interpretations, hype, and spin.

Highly recommended.