According to the Federal Reserve, brisk activity at U.S. auto plants last month, boosted FACTORY OUTPUT by more than 1 percent ...its largest increase since August of 2009.
But, after three consecutive monthly declines, the PRODUCER PRICE INDEX, a closely watched barometer of inflation at the wholesale level, rose by 0.2 percent in July.
Meanwhile, the Commerce Department reported NEW HOUSING STARTS rose 1.7 percent last month. But every silver lining seems to have a cloud these days, and analysts noted the modest gain was driven by a 30 percent surge in multi-family structures, comprising a relatively small portion of the market.
SINGLE-FAMILY UNITS which accounted for nearly 80 percent of the new construction fell 4.2 percent in July, while requests for BUILDING PERMITS slid more than 3 percent.
In an effort to show voters he shares their concerns over the sluggish recovery, President Obama acknowledged this week there is more work to be done. But he seized some recent developments as evidence the economy IS improving.
The president also appointed Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, as undersecretary for food safety at USDA. The move came as a "recess appointment," a procedure allowing the President to bypass the confirmation process while Congress is not in session.
Ironically, the decision to fill the top USDA Food Safety post came on the same day the Food and Drug Administration announced a nationwide recall of 380 million eggs from a large-scale producer in Iowa.
Wright County Egg, part of the DeCoster family agribusiness operations, had shipped eggs earlier this year to wholesalers, distribution centers and food service companies in eight, primarily Midwestern, states.
CDC officials said this week the ongoing salmonella outbreak from eggs may have sickened about 1,300 people from May to July.
In addition to food safety issues, DeCoster's operations have been cited numerous times, including for labor law violations and not following immigration rules.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, the outbreak may have been prevented if new rules to ensure egg safety had been in place a few months earlier. The regulations, which require producers to do more testing for salmonella and take other precautions, went into effect in July. The FDA said at the time, the rules could have reduced the number of salmonella cases by nearly 60 percent.
The regulations set new procedures for testing for salmonella and require pasteurization if tests are positive. Rodent-and pest-control measures must be in place in poultry houses, and the facilities must be disinfected before new hens are added.
FDA officials are on site at the egg producer to inspect facilities and test for salmonella. They are calling the recall "one of the largest shell-egg recalls in recent history."