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Consumer Spending on the Rise
Consumer Spending on the Rise

The Commerce Department reported on Friday that consumer spending in the U.S. rose during August, at the highest speed seen in six months. Consumer spending jumped 0.5% in August, on a seasonally adjusted basis. Personal income rose a much smaller amount of 0.1% and the U.S. savings rate fell to 3.7% from 4.1% for the biggest one-month decline in a year. Commerce also forecast a 0.2% rise in personal income and since personal spending rose faster than income, the savings rate fell. Inflation as gauged by the core PCE price index rose a scant 0.1% in August. Over the past 12 months, core PCE has risen 1.6% which is within the Federal Reserve's preferred zero to 2.0% range. In July, spending was unchanged at a 0.4% increase. The rise in income, was reduced to 0.1% from 0.3%.

The United States Postal Service will miss a $5.6 billion payment due to the U.S. Treasury on Sunday. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said services will no be disrupted, but sounded a cautionary note that the mail delivery specialist has squeezed all of the cost savings within its power. The Postal Service has been pushing for legislation to allow it to eliminate Saturday mail delivery and reduce its $5 billion annual payment for future retiree health benefits. Congress has wrapped up its session until after the November elections with no postal fix approved.

Tim Cook Chief Executive of Apple Inc. (AAPL) apologized for glitches in the iPhone Maps application, which was widely criticized by users. "We strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers," Cook said in a letter on Apple's Web site. "With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers." Cook added that Apple customers "can try alternatives" by downloading other apps such as Bing, MapQuest or even apps from rival Google Inc. (GOOG) or Nokia Corp. (NOK) "by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app."

Crown Castle International Corp. (CCI), a cell-tower company, will be purchasing the rights to about 7,200 of cell phone towers belonging to T-Mobile USA Inc. - which is owned by Deutsche Telekom AG (DTEGY, DTE.XE) - for $2.4 billion in cash as the wireless carrier looks to use the funds to upgrade its network. The deal, which is expected to close in Q4, gives Crown Castle exclusive rights to lease and operate the T-Mobile USA towers for about 28 years. Crown will have the option to buy the towers for an additional $2.4 billion after that time. The efforts began after AT&T Inc. (T), the country's No. 2 wireless carrier behind Verizon Wireless, dropped its $39 billion bid to buy T-Mobile USA last year in the face of regulatory opposition. The proceeds from the tower sale are needed to help T-Mobile upgrade its network to a high-speed technology called LTE. The agreement comes a little more than a week after T-Mobile USA named a new chief executive, John Legere.

Bank of America Corp. (BAC) on Friday said it has agreed to settle a related class action lawsuit for $2.43 billion, as they work to clear up the chaos and fallout from its 2009 buy of Merrill Lynch. BofA said the litigation charge related to the settlement, along with debt and other charges, will cut Q3 earnings per share by about 28 cents. "Resolving this litigation removes uncertainty and risk and is in the best interests of our shareholders," said Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan. "As we work to put these long-standing issues behind us, our primary focus is on the future and serving our customers and clients." BofA additionally said they will institute certain new corporate governance policies as part of the settlement. Judge Kevin Castel in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York still needs to approve the deal, per BofA.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported domestic inventories for U.S. corn and wheat futures at lower-than-expected levels. Soybean futures traded mixed due to a higher-than-expected inventories figure for the oilseed. The USDA reported that corn stocks as of September 1 were 988 million bushels, well below the average analyst forecast of 1.126 billion bushels. The USDA reported stocks of wheat were 2.104 billion bushels, below the average analyst prediction of 2.281 billion bushels. Soybean inventories as of Sept. 1 were 169 million bushels, above the average analyst prediction of 132 million bushels.

The University of Michigan-Thomson Reuters consumer-sentiment gauge rose to a final September reading of 78.3, for the highest reading since May. A preliminary September reading pegged the sentiment level at 79.2. Richard Curtin, the survey’s chief economist said, “The improvement was due to a reduction in their debt levels and an increase in the value of their assets, primarily because of rising stock prices and home values. Nonetheless, consumers anticipate a rocky economic road ahead. Small wage increases, rising food prices, slowly declining joblessness, higher taxes, and an overall economy that will not expand continuously but suffer some setbacks over the next several years.” The sentiment gauge covers how consumers view their personal finances as well as business and buying conditions and averaged about 87 in the year before the most recent recession. According to the data released Friday, a gauge of consumer expectations rose to 73.5 in September from 65.1 in August while a barometer of consumers’ views on current conditions declined to 85.7 from 88.7.


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Sept 28, 2012


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