Better Than Expected

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 - 8:10am

New economic numbers show improvement, but jobs remain a concern.

A new survey shows consumer confidence is up slightly after two straight months of declines, but job worries continue to drag down the mood of spenders.

There was also a bit of good news in the otherwise glum housing market.

A now expired tax credit helped boost home prices in june for the third straight month.

There was mixed news on the banking front.

U.S. Banks posted their highest quarterly earnings in close to three years, led by the largest institutions, but the number of banks at risk grew to more than 800, more than a tenth of U.S. banks.

FDIC Chair Sheila Bair says standards to get some types of credit are beginning to ease, but lending won't pick up until businesses and consumers increase spending and hiring.

"Particularly given economic uncertainties, we believe all banks should exercise caution and maintain strong reserves," Bair said.

Meanwhile, retailers gearing up for the fall and holiday shopping seasons are hoping consumers will spend, but with even worse unemployment numbers expected later this week, most aren't banking on it.

The Labor Department's new numbers are due out the end of this week.

The unemployment rate is expected to have risen to 9.6 percent in August from 9.5 percent in July, showing employers are still reluctant to add workers.

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