This Week's Economic Roundup

Prices for both consumers and manufacturers kept climbing in July, amid further signs that the economy would continue to slow down in the months ahead. Here's a look at this week's economic developments and how they may impact your business.

Prices Rising

After months of sharper increases, core consumer prices rose modestly in July, the Labor Department reported on Wednesday.

Consumer prices, excluding food and energy costs, rose 0.2 percent in July, following a run of 0.3 percent increases over the previous four months, the report said.

Click here to visit's Small Business Center.

Still, overall consumer prices kept climbing in July, by 0.4 percent, with higher prices for housing, transportation, and recreation, the report said. In the 12 months ending in July, consumer prices have soared by 4.1 percent.

The nation's manufacturers also saw higher prices in July, the Labor Department said in a separate on Wednesday.

Driven by higher energy costs, producer prices rose 0.1 percent in July, following gains of 0.5 percent in June and 0.2 percent in May, the report said.

While prices were higher for most intermediate goods and crude materials, producer prices stripped off energy and food costs fell 0.3 percent in July, a reversal of the 0.2 percent gains in June and the first decline since October, the report said.

Leading Indicators Down

In another sign the economy may be trending downward, the index of U.S. leading indicators fell 0.1 percent in July after an upswing of 0.1 percent the previous month, the Conference Board reported on Thursday.

Five of 10 components of the index — a gauge of the economic outlook over the next few months — were in decline in July, including building permits, weekly jobless claims, interest-rate spread, manufacturers' new orders, and the real money supply, the New York-based private research group said.

The number of building permits issued in July dropped by 6.5 percent to 1.747 million, the Department of Housing and Urban Development said on Wednesday. Also down were housing starts, by 2.5 percent, and housing completions, by 5.4 percent, the report said.

Second quarter existing home sales fell by 7 percent over the same period last year to 6.69 million units, the National Association of Realtors reported on Tuesday.

Jobless Claims Fall

Initial claims for unemployment insurance dropped by 10,000 to 312,000 last week, the Labor Department reported on Thursday.

Overall, some 2.4 million people filed for jobless claims in the week ending Aug.5, putting the seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate at 1.9 percent, unchanged from the previous week, the report said.

The biggest gains in new claims last week were in Puerto Rico, Kentucky, and North Carolina, the report said.

Click here to visit's Small Business Center.

Copyright © 2006 Mansueto Ventures LLC. All rights reserved.