Hello, I'm Mark Pearson. Brisk sales at car dealerships in July pushed RETAIL SALES higher for the first time in three months, even though more expensive food and gasoline boosted U.S. CONSUMER PRICES by the most in nearly a year...
According to the Commerce Department, retail sales rose 0.4 percent last month, driven largely by higher auto and gasoline purchases.
Excluding the automobile sector, sales were up a more modest 0.2 percent, in part, because consumer PRICES, rose 0.3 percent in July, in their largest increase since last August.
Excluding the volatile food and energy sectors, so-called "core inflation" grew by 0.1 percent in July.
And the government reported America's trade deficit widened in June to nearly $50 billion. That's the largest monthly trade gap in nearly two years.
One sector of the economy enjoying a trade SURPLUS is agriculture. The U.S. is projected to export $105 billion worth of agricultural goods this year, up more than 8 percent from 2009 when the nation posted a $23 billion agricultural trade surplus.
And this week, the Agriculture Department predicted record corn and soybean production this fall will be countered by strong demand.
The Agriculture Department released its latest crop production estimates Thursday indicating American farmers should once again expect record-breaking corn and soybean harvests this fall.
According to USDA, moderate temperatures and adequate soil moisture has provided favorable growing conditions for corn across the Mississippi Valley and Upper Great Lakes region while above-normal temperatures and dry conditions have hurt production in the Atlantic Coast region and Tennessee Valley.
The average corn yield is expected to be a record 165 bushels an acre with the total harvest being more that 13.3 billion bushels (13.365).
Projected soybean yields are high across the northern tier of states but dry and very hot conditions in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia has lowered previous estimates. USDA believes over 3.4 billion bushels (3.433) of soybeans will be produced with an average yield of 44 bushels per acre.
It's expected that the increase in production will be offset by higher demand, leaving soybean ending stocks unchanged.
Drought conditions in the former Soviet Union caused Russian wheat production estimates to plummet from 53 million to 45 million metric tons. USDA pegs total U.S. wheat production at just under 2.3 billion bushels (2.265).
And, the government projected U.S. cotton production at 18.5 million bales, up 52 percent from last year. Nevertheless, cotton futures prices soared to a 12-week high Thursday on news that China will increase cotton imports by more than 7 percent from last months estimate.