Department of Commerce

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Dow Breaks 18K for First Time

Plus consumer spending, business investment help US economy grow 5% in 3rd Q

(Newser) - The Dow Jones Industrial Average cruised past 18,000 for the first time ever today, the AP reports. The S&P 500 also broke records this morning, rising six points (0.3%) to 2,084. This followed on the heels of news that the US economy grew at a sizzling... More »

US Economy Shrank 2.9%— Worst Since '09

Number much higher than expected

(Newser) - The US economy shrank at a staggering annual rate of 2.9% in the January-March quarter as a harsh winter contributed to the biggest contraction since the depths of the recession five years ago. The Commerce Department says the first-quarter contraction was even more severe than the 1% annual decline... More »

US to Cede Its Control Over Internet

It will no longer have authority over domain names, Web addresses

(Newser) - The end of an Internet era is near: The US plans to give up its control over the group that manages domain names and Web addresses, reports the Washington Post . The long-planned move means that the Commerce Department does not plan to renew its contract with the Internet Corporation for... More »

FBI: Our Economic Data Is at Risk

Flaw in system could allow hackers to access 'black box'

(Newser) - The FBI has found "a number of operational vulnerabilities" in the system the government uses to protect sensitive economic information, the Wall Street Journal reports. As part of its long-running attempt to figure out what's behind the suspicious trading activity that often precedes major economic news, the bureau... More »

Obama to Announce Picks for Commerce, Trade Rep

Longtime fundraiser and top economic adviser will be nominated today

(Newser) - President Obama will name a longtime fundraiser to run the Commerce Department and a top economic adviser as the next US Trade Representative, according to a White House official. Commerce nominee Penny Pritzker, a businesswoman, philanthropist, and Hyatt hotel heiress, is Obama's final pick to fill vacancies among Cabinet... More »

US Factory Orders Jump 1.8%

...But indicator of future investments takes a downward turn

(Newser) - US factory orders increased in December, even though companies trimmed their orders for goods that signal investment plans. The Commerce Department says factory orders rose 1.8% compared to November, when orders had fallen 0.3%. But demand for core capital goods, a category considered a proxy for business investment... More »

US Retail Sales Rise 0.5%

Holiday sales indicate that no one was worried about fiscal cliff

(Newser) - US consumers increased their spending at retail businesses in December, buying more autos, furniture, and clothing. Steady job growth and lower gas prices kept consumers shopping for the holidays, despite worries about potential tax increases. The Commerce Department said today that retail sales rose 0.5% in December from November,... More »

Housing Starts Soar to Highest Since 2008

Almost all of the growth comes in apartments, townhouses

(Newser) - The housing market might finally be coming around. The number of new homes that began construction last month took a surprise 3.6% leap to an 894,000 annual rate—the highest since July 2008, the Commerce Department announced today. That's well above the 840,000 economists surveyed by... More »

Consumer Spending Jumps 0.8%

It's the best report in 7 months, but outpaces income growth

(Newser) - Americans increased their spending in September at twice the rate their income rose, a sign of confidence in the economy. The Commerce Department says consumer spending increased 0.8% in September, the best showing since February. Personal income rose 0.4%, an improvement from a slight 0.1% gain in... More »

Why June's Falling Retail Sales Matter

Because drop marks the first 3-month decline since 2008

(Newser) - Americans cut their spending at retail businesses for a third straight month, as a weak job market has made consumers more cautious. The Commerce Department says retail sales fell 0.5% in June from May. That followed declines of 0.2% and 0.5% in the previous two months. It... More »

Obama Wants Power to Merge 6 Trade Agencies

Move aims to cut down on government bureaucracy

(Newser) - President Obama will today announce a plan to mash together six federal agencies—including the Commerce Department—in an effort to simplify the government's sprawling regulatory bureaucracy. Obama can't actually make the move without Congressional approval, however, so he intends to ask Congress for a special reorganizational power—... More »

Obama to Tap Energy Exec for Commerce

Former energy CEO John Bryson picked to head Dept. of Commerce

(Newser) - President Obama will nominate businessman John Bryson to lead the Commerce Department, a White House official said today. Bryson's appointment brings another private sector player into an administration that has been making a concerted effort to improve its relationship with the business community. Bryson is a former chairman and... More »

Americans Buy $1.2T Worth of Stuff They Don’t Need

That's about 11% of total consumer spending

(Newser) - Ever wonder how much Americans spend on non-essential goodies such as jewelry, yachts, booze, and even candy? A lot, as in $1.2 trillion, or about 11% of total consumer spending, reports the Wall Street Journal . The percentage is up from 9.3% a decade ago and 4% in 1959,... More »

Multinationals Cut 2.9M US Jobs, Hired 2.4M Abroad

Skilled jobs oozed out of the States in the 2000s

(Newser) - The US Commerce Department released a report today throwing into sharp relief just how drastically US multinational corporations are shifting jobs overseas. During the 2000s, US companies cut 2.9 million jobs in the US, while hiring 2.4 million abroad—including an increasing number of highly-skilled workers, the Wall ... More »

Retail Sales Rise for 5th Straight Month

Low inflation, big discounts bring customers to stores

(Newser) - Retail sales rose for a fifth straight month in November, as the biggest jump in department store sales in two years gave the holiday shopping season a strong start. Retail sales increased 0.8% last month, the Commerce Department announced today, beating analyst predictions of a 0.5% increase, according... More »

White House Plans Internet Privacy Watchdog

New consumer protection laws to be drafted

(Newser) - The Obama administration is stepping up efforts to increase regulation of the Internet and protect users' privacy. New laws to bring protections in line with today's technology are being drafted, along with plans to create a new position to oversee the administration's efforts, sources tell the Wall Street Journa l.... More »

New Home Sales Take Huge Leap

Crucial metric scores biggest jump in 47 years

(Newser) - Sales of new homes surged 27% last month, bouncing off the previous month's record low and blowing past expectations as better weather and government incentives boosted sales. In all, new home sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 411,000 in March, the biggest monthly jump in 47... More »

Q3 GDP Growth More Like 2.8% Than 3.5%

Spending and home prices are up, but not enough to help jobs

(Newser) - The government’s optimistic reading of GDP growth in the 3rd quarter was distorted by a pair of rose-tinted glasses, it now says. The Commerce Department has revised its estimate down to 2.8% from 3.5% on evidence that stimulus programs like Cash for Clunkers and the homebuyers' tax... More »

Economy Shrinks Faster Than Expected in 1st Quarter

6.1% pace fueled by biz cutbacks, export drop

(Newser) - The US economy shrank at a worse-than-expected 6.1% pace at the start of this year as sharp cutbacks by businesses and the biggest drop in US exports in 40 years overwhelmed a rebound in consumer spending. Today's Commerce Department report dashed hopes that the recession's grip on the country... More »

March New Home Sales Down 0.6%

But that's good news: Numbers are actually better than expected

(Newser) - New US home sales dipped slightly last month but still beat expectations as builders start to see long-awaited encouraging signs about the housing market—including a dip in the inventory of new homes for sale. Sales fell 0.6% in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 356,000,... More »

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