U.S. economy steaming ahead

WASHINGTON MARCH 29. A slew of data released on Thursday showed the U.S. Economy steaming ahead in February and March and revealed that it entered 2002 with more momentum than previously thought. "It's all consistent with the view the economy is turning a corner," said Mike Moran, chief economist with Daiwa Securities America in New York.

Consumer sentiment improved in February, according to polling data from the University of Michigan. There was good news for the manufacturing sector as well, with a report by Chicago-area purchasing managers showing Chicago-area manufacturing activity was unexpectedly strong in March.

Labour market readings were mixed. While the private-sector conference board's monthly track of help-wanted advertising rose in February, showing an improving job market, the Labour Department said initial claims for unemployment benefits rose in the week ended March 23, defying expectations for a fall.

Finally, the Commerce Department reported economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2001 was stronger than previously thought, rising at a 1.7 per cent annual pace instead of the 1.4 per cent rate in the prior estimate. While after-tax profits of companies slid, they actually rose prior to an adjustment by commerce for recent economic stimulus legislation. — Reuters

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