More evidence the economy is well-on-the-road to recovery was visible this week as consumers opened their pocketbooks to purchase more food, clothing, AND shelter.
Retails sales -- which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity -- was up 5 tenths of one percent in January, well above market predictions. When automobile sales are taken out of the mix, the number was a slightly higher.
The overall economy grew by 5.7 percent during the past calendar year -- its best showing in more than half a decade.
Despite the positive growth, the trade deficit with China is the second highest on record at over $225 billion. The economic downturn has made a dent in the overall trade deficit of nearly $400 billion---the lowest in eight years.
Home sales also showed signs of improvement jumping a seasonally adjusted annual rate of nearly 14 percent.
And the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed a volatile week at just over 10,000. This after the European Union bank helped to steady the Greek economy and China worked to cool its credit boom.
Economic recovery also can be seen among America's farmers where USDA economists are predicting net farm income will be up after last year's downturn.
After declining more than 20 percent last year, farm sector earnings are forecast to rise in 2010 according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture this week.
USDA estimates net farm income to be $63 billion this year, up $6.7 billion from 2009. 2010 net farm income is forecast to be $25 billion below its all-time record in 2004. However, it represents a rebound from 2009, a year in which demand for agricultural products fell worldwide due to the global recession.
In addition, USDA expects net cash income to hit $76.3 billion, a rise of nearly 8 percent. This would be $3.5 billion above the previous 10-year average.
Following two record years of increases in expenses, 2009 saw a $9.3 billion decline. And as 2010 begins, USDA forecasts little change. The global recession has put downward pressure on markets for farm inputs as well as commodities. Producers have seen costs for fertilizer and feed, in particular, drop since last year.