Job openings highest in four years in June

WASHINGTON, Tue Aug 7, 2012 – Job openings in June were the highest in four years but the pace of hiring slowed from the prior month, government data showed on Tuesday.

Job openings – a measure of labor demand – rose to 3.76 million, the highest since July 2008, from 3.66 million in May, the Labor Department said in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.

The hiring rate, however, slipped to 3.3 percent from 3.4 percent in May.

Retail sales fall for third straight month in June

WASHINGTON – Retail sales fell for a third straight month in June as demand slumped for everything from cars and electronics to building materials, a sign the economic recovery is flagging.
Retail sales slipped 0.5 percent, the Commerce Department said.
It was the first time sales had dropped in three consecutive months since late 2008, when the economy was still mired in a deep recession. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected retail sales to rise 0.2 percent.
The report adds to a spate of weak economic data that is raising pressure on President Barack Obama ahead of his November reelection bid. Republican challenger Mitt Romney is focusing his campaign on the weak economy that has plagued Obama’s presidency.
The report could raise hopes that the Federal Reserve could launch another bond-buying program to help the economy.
Job creation in the United States has slowed dramatically in the last few months, and recently the country’s factory sector also showed signs of contraction.
The retail data is particularly worrisome because it suggests consumer spending, which drives about two-thirds of the economy, is also sagging.

Chrysler June sales up 20 percent, slightly above expectations

DETROIT, Tue Jul 3, 2012, – Chrysler Group LLC’s June U.S. auto sales rose 20 percent to 144,811 vehicles, the company said on Tuesday, slightly topping analyst expectations.

It was the 27th consecutive month that Chrysler sales topped those from the previous year, and its best June sales since 2007.

Chrysler, an affiliate of Italy’s Fiat SpA, is the first of the major automakers to report U.S. June sales.

J.D. Power and Associates and LMC Automotive expect a 20-percent gain in U.S. auto sales for June.

Auto sales are an early sign of consumer spending each month. The auto industry has been one of the bright spots in the U.S. economy this year, but deteriorating European markets have led industry executives to worry about possible contagion spreading to North America.

The Chrysler brand of vehicles showed a 63-percent gain in sales, followed by its Jeep brand at a 23-percent gain, Ram truck up 12 percent and the Dodge brand up only 2 percent, Chrysler said.

June import prices post first decline in a year as oil, food costs fall

WASHINGTON ―Import prices fell in June for the first time in a year as petroleum and food costs tumbled, according to a government report on Wednesday that suggested the commodity-driven spike in inflation was abating.

Overall import prices dropped 0.5 percent, breaking eight straight months of increases, the Labor Department said, after gaining 0.1 percent in May.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected prices to drop 0.6 percent last month. Import prices were up 13.6 percent in the 12 months through June.

Stripping out fuel and food, import prices were flat after rising 0.6 percent in May. The report supported the contention by Federal Reserve officials and independent economists that the commodity-induced jump in inflation would be temporary.

Data on Thursday is expected to show that wholesale prices fell 0.2 percent in June from May, according to a Reuters survey. The producer price index rose 0.2 percent in May.

High inflation undercut economic activity in first quarter, with growth slowing sharply to a 1.9 percent annual rate after a brisk 3.1 percent expansion in the final three months of 2010.

So far, data suggest that still-high commodity prices and disruptions to motor vehicle production because of a shortage of parts from Japan contributed to keeping growth sluggish during the April-June quarter.

Last month, a 1.6 percent drop in imported petroleum prices helped to push import prices down. The drop in petroleum in June was the biggest in a year and followed a 0.9 percent fall in May.

Imported food prices declined 1.9 percent, the largest fall in more than two years, after sliding 0.7 percent in May.

The price of imported motor vehicles and parts rose 0.3 percent last month after increasing 0.5 percent in May. The rise in motor vehicle prices reflects the lingering effects of supply chain disruptions after the March earthquake in Japan.

The Labor Department report also showed export prices edged up 0.1 percent in June after rising 0.2 percent the prior month. Analysts had expected export prices to gain 0.2 percent.