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Topic: Food Prices

Consumer Reports finds more products are getting smaller

 

Manufacturers downsizing packaging by as much as 20% but still charging the same price

Consumer ReportsYonkers, NY - Does it seem like some products don’t last as long as they used to? From toothpaste to tuna fish, hot dogs to hand soap, companies have been shaving ounces and inches from packages for years.

ConsumerReports’ latest investigation, featured in the February issue of Consumer Reports and online at www.ConsumerReports.org, found that more and more products are getting downsized. «Read the rest of this article»

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The Weekly Market Snapshot from Frazier Allen

 

Weekly Market Snapshot

Market Commentary by Scott J. Brown, Ph.D., Chief Economist

Scott J. Brown Ph.D., Chief Economist Raymond James Investment Services

Scott J. Brown Ph.D., Chief Economist Raymond James Investment Services

There were several surprises in the economic data reports, mostly to the downside. The market took some comfort earlier in the week as the Producer Price Index (PPI) seemed to suggest that deflation was less likely to be a problem and that manufacturing output was strong in July. However, the core PPI (reported up 0.3%) was boosted by what is likely to have been a seasonal adjustment quirk in light motor trucks. Industrial production was boosted partly by a 9.9% jump in motor vehicle production, which reflected fewer-than-usual summer plant closings (prior to seasonal adjustment, auto output fell 20.3% in July).

On Thursday, the stock market was rattled by a further increase in initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits (which may or may not be distorted) and by a surprisingly weak Philadelphia Federal Reserve Index (-7.7, compared to expectations of +7.0). «Read the rest of this article»

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The Weekly Market Snapshot from Frazier Allen

 

Weekly Market Snapshot

Market Commentary by Scott J. Brown, Ph.D., Chief Economist

Scott J. Brown Ph.D., Chief Economist Raymond James Investment Services

Scott J. Brown Ph.D., Chief Economist Raymond James Investment Services

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) left short-term interest rates unchanged and repeated that “economic conditions, including low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation trends, and stable inflation expectations, are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period.” In its assessment of the economic outlook, the FOMC noted that “the pace of economic recovery is likely to be more modest in the near term than had been anticipated.”

More importantly, the FOMC voted to keep the level of its securities holdings constant by reinvesting principal payments from agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in long-term Treasury securities. By itself, this isn’t a huge move, but it is an important signal that the Fed could do more later on. «Read the rest of this article»

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The Weekly Market Snapshot from Frazier Allen

 

Market Commentary by Scott J. Brown, Ph.D., Chief Economist

Scott J. Brown Ph.D., Chief Economist Raymond James Investment Services
Scott J. Brown Ph.D., Chief Economist Raymond James Investment Services

In addition to the mostly positive corporate earnings reports this week, the focus fell on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s monetary policy testimony – before the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday and in front of the House Financial Services Committee on Thursday. While he didn’t offer anything new in support of the economy, he assured the legislators the Fed remains “prepared to take further policy actions as needed.

In prepared remarks, Bernanke said the economy is “proceeding at a moderate pace.” On the positive side, he noted that business and household demand is rising, but that housing and commercial construction are weak – and that continuing job market weakness is holding back consumer demand. It will require “a significant amount of time” to recoup the 8.5 million jobs lost in 2008 and 2009, he said, citing the latest Fed projections that show reducing unemployment “is now expected to be somewhat slower than we previously projected.” Unemployment may stand between 7% and 7.5% at the end of 2012, he said.

«Read the rest of this article»

Sections: Business | No Comments
 

The Weekly Market Snapshot from Frazier Allen

 

Market Commentary by Scott J. Brown, Ph.D., Chief Economist

Scott J. Brown Ph.D., Chief Economist Raymond James Investment Services
Scott J. Brown Ph.D., Chief Economist Raymond James Investment Services

The economic data remained generally soft. Retail sales and industrial production fell in June. Consumer sentiment dropped sharply in mid–July. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) fell 0.1% in June (+1.1% year–over–year) but was up 0.2% ex-food and energy (+0.1588% before rounding). The CPI was up 0.9% year–over–year – and at a 0.6% annual rate in the first half of 2010. Earnings reports were generally good, helping the stock market along earlier in the week. But the major market averages faded on Friday.

The June 22nd-23rd Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) minutes showed that policymakers believed that “the economic outlook had softened somewhat and a number of members saw the risks to the outlook as having shifted to the downside.” Still, “the changes to the outlook were viewed as relatively modest and as not warranting policy accommodation beyond that already in place.” However, “members noted that in addition to continuing to develop and test instruments to exit from the period of unusually accommodative monetary policy, the Committee would need to consider whether further policy stimulus might become appropriate if the outlook were to worsen appreciably.«Read the rest of this article»

Sections: Business | No Comments
 

The Weekly Market Snapshot from Frazier Allen

 

Market Commentary by Scott J. Brown, Ph.D., Chief Economist

Scott J. Brown Ph.D., Chief Economist Raymond James Investment Services
Scott J. Brown Ph.D., Chief Economist Raymond James Investment Services

The economic calendar was thin. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Non-Manufacturing Index fell more than expected in June, consistent with a moderation in the pace of the recovery – still positive, just somewhat slower – but the stock market took the news in stride. The U.S. Department of the Treasury refrained from declaring China a currency manipulator, but indicated that China’s official currency, the renminbi, remains undervalued and promised to closely monitor its appreciation.

The stock market rallied in the new quarter, partly because it wasn’t battered by a further string of disappointing economic news and partly because a lot of disappointing economic news is already baked into the cake.

Next week, there are several potentially market-moving data releases, but most of the weight will likely be placed on the reports concerning retail sales (Wednesday) and the Consumer Price Index (Friday). Retail sales in June are expected to be limited by a drop in unit vehicle sales and by lower gasoline prices. The CPI is likely to be about flat in June, reflecting lower gasoline prices – the year-over-year pace should drop to about 1.3% (from 2.0%) as higher energy prices roll off the back end of the 12-month calculation. «Read the rest of this article»

Sections: Business | No Comments
 

The Weekly Market Snapshot from Frazier Allen

 

Market Commentary by Scott J. Brown, Ph.D., Chief Economist for Raymond James Investment Services

Scott J. Brown Ph.D., Chief Economist Raymond James Investment Services

Scott J. Brown Ph.D., Chief Economist Raymond James Investment Services

The economic data were mixed, but generally consistent with a moderate economic recovery. Residential construction figures fell sharply in May, reflecting the impact of the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit on April 30. Industrial production continued to advance in May, boosted partly by higher utility output – a function of unseasonably warm weather. Manufacturing output rose 0.9%. Capacity utilization continued to rise, but remains well below the average level of the last several years (and far below levels that might be considered “inflationary”).

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) fell 0.2% in May (+2.0% year-over-year – but unchanged relative to December 2009), held down by flat food prices and a drop in energy, which was largely due to the seasonal adjustment. Ex-food and energy, the CPI edged up 0.1% in May, which put it up 0.9% year-over-year. Weekly jobless claims remained stubbornly high. «Read the rest of this article»

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