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US Economic Growth Signals End Of Recession

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The US economy grew at a 3.5 percent pace in the third quarter, the best showing in two years, fueled by government-supported spending on cars and homes. It’s the strongest signal yet that the economy has entered a new, though fragile, phase of recovery and that the worst recession since the 1930s has ended. Going forward, many analysts expect the pace of the budding recovery to be plodding due to rising unemployment and continuing difficulties by both consumers and businesses to secure loans. “This welcome milestone is just another step, and we still have a long road to travel until the economy is fully recovered,” said Christina Romer, President Barack Obama’s chief economist. “It will take sustained, robust … growth to bring the unemployment rate down substantially. Such a decline in unemployment is, of course, what we are all working to achieve.” The much-awaited turnaround reported Thursday by the Commerce Department ended the streak of four straight quarters of contracting economic activity, the first time that’s happened on records dating to 1947. It also marked the first increase since the spring of 2008, when the economy experienced a short-lived uptick in growth. On Wall Street, the news lifted stocks. The Dow Jones industrials gained nearly 110 points in midday trading and broader indices also rose. The third-quarter’s performance — the strongest since right before the country fell into recession in December 2007 — was slightly better than the 3.3 percent growth rate economists expected. Armed with cash from government support programs, consumers led the rebound in the third quarter, snapping up cars and homes. Consumer spending on big-ticket manufactured goods soared at an annualized rate of 22.3 percent in the third quarter, the most since the end of 2001. The jump largely reflected car purchases spurred by the government’s Cash for Clunkers program that offered a rebate of up to $4,500 to buy new cars and trade in old gas guzzlers. The housing market also turned a corner in the summer. Spending on housing projects jumped at an annualized pace of 23.4 percent, the largest jump since 1986. It was the first time since the end of 2005 that spending on housing was positive. Purchases of home furnishings and appliances also added to economic growth. The government’s $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers supported the housing rebound. Congress is considering extending the credit, which expires on November 30. The collapse of the housing market led the country into the recession. Rotten mortgage securities spiraled into a banking crisis. Home foreclosures surged. The sector’s return to good health is a crucial ingredient to a sustained economic recovery. A top concern is whether the recovery can continue after government supports are gone. Many economists predict economic activity won’t grow as much in the months ahead as the bracing impact of Obama’s $787 billion package of increased government spending and tax cuts fades. The National Association for Business Economics thinks growth will slow to a 2.4 percent pace in the current October-December quarter. It expects a 2.5 percent growth rate in the first three months of next year, although other economists believe the pace will be closer to 1 percent. Romer, in remarks last week said the government’s stimulus spending already had its biggest impact and probably won’t contribute to significant growth next year. Brisk spending by the federal government played into the third-quarter turnaround. Federal government spending rose at a rate of 7.9 percent in the third quarter, on top of a 11.4 percent growth rate in the second quarter.

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Senate Confirms Cardoso, 11 Others As Monetary Policy Committee Members 

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The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Olayemi Cardoso as the chairman of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Also confirmed for appointment as members of the MPC yesterday, include, Muhammad Abdullahi, (CBN deputy governor), Bala Bello (CBN deputy governor), Emem Usoro (CBN deputy governor), Philip Ikeazor (CBN deputy governor), Lamido Yuguda, (DG Securities and Exchange Commission) and Jafiya Lydia Shehu, (Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance).

Others are Murtala Sabo Sagagi (CBN director) Aloysius  Ordu, Aku Odukemelu, Mustapha Akinwunmi, and Bamidele Amoo.

President Bola Tinubu had on Wednesday named Cardoso as the chairman and 11 others as members of the MPC.

Tinubu in his letter of nomination to the Senate, said his action was in line with the provisions of Section 12 of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007.

The President had about a week ago asked the Senate to confirm Cardoso, as the chairman of the Monetary Policy Committee of the apex bank.

CBN MPC will hold its first policy meeting for the year on February 26 and 27.

The Senate had , on Wednesday, screened the nominated members of the CBN Monetary Policy Committee, questioning them on the lingering foreign exchange and food crises.

 

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‘Unemployment Rate Hit 0.8% In 2023 Q3’

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The unemployment rate in Nigeria rose by 0.8percent in the third quarter of 2023.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), this was a significant rise, adding that the unemployment rate rose from the 4.2percent recorded in Q2 2023 to 5.0 percent in Q3 2023.
The NBS, the custodian of official statistics in the country, disclosed this in a report it published last Monday titled “Nigeria Labour Force Survey Q3 2023”.
“The employment-to-population ratio was 75.6 percent in Q3 2023 with a decrease of 1.5 percent compared to a ratio of Q2 2023.
“The combined rate of unemployment and time-related underemployment as a share of the labour force population (LU2) increased to 17.3percent in Q3 2023 from 15.5percent in Q2 2023.
“About 87.3 percent of workers were self-employed in Q3 2023. The proportion of workers in Wage Employment in Q3 2023 was 12.7 percent.
“The unemployment rate increased significantly in Q3 2023 at 5.0 percent. This is an increase of 0.8 percent from Q2 2023.
“The rate of unemployment among persons with post-secondary education was 7.8 percent in Q3 2023”, the report stated in part.
It added that the unemployment rate for youth between the ages of 15 and 24 years was recorded at 8.6 per cent in Q3 2023 while the informal employment rate in Q3 2023 was 92.3 per cent.
The report added, “The unemployment rate in urban areas was 6.0 percent percentin Q3 2023, a slight increase of 0.1 percent from Q2 2023.
“Time-related underemployment in Q3 2023 was 12.3 percent, showing a slight increase of 0.5 percent from the rate recorded in Q2 2023. This shows an increase of 1.4 percent compared to the rate in Q4 2022.
“4.1percent of the working-age population was in subsistence agriculture in Q3 2023. Informal employment rate in Q3 2023 was 92.3percent, while Q2 2023 was 92.7percent.
“Percentage of youth Not in Employment, Education or Training was 13.7percent in Q3 2023”.
Recall that Nigeria’s inflation rate last Thursday climbed to 29.90 per cent in January 2024 from 28.92 per cent recorded in the previous month.
The 0.98 percent increase shows that the inflation rate in the country is yet to slow down.
The NBS revealed this in its ‘Consumer Price Index’
The development adds more pressure on the Central Bank’s monetary policy committee to sharply raise interest rates at a February  26-27 meeting its first in seven months.

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Merchant Navy Lauds NIWA Over Staff Welfare

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The Nigerian Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association (NMNO/WTSSA) has expressed optimism that the Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Mr. Bola Oyebamiji, will prioritise workers welfare for optimal performance of the agency.
Jibril Darda’u, General Manager, Corporate Affairs, NIWA, in a statement over the weekend, disclosed that the seafarers’ union’s remarks are one of the highlights of the meeting between the Trade Union Congress (TUC) affiliate group and management of the agency.
The statement quoted the Chairman of the NMNO/WTSSA, Comrade Suleiman Danjuma, as commending the Managing Director of NIWA for the good initiative of the kind of interaction that brings the staff closer to the management.
“This will definitely boost the morale of the staff and pledge their loyalty and confidence in the Managing Director’s leadership style”, Danjuma stated.
Earlier, the Managing Director of NIWA promised to build on the progress already achieved at the Lokoja River Port, Kogi State.
The MD disclosed this when he went on a familiarisation tour of NIWA’s facilities in Lokoja.
According to the MD, the importance of Lokoja River Port being in the confluence State is to boost the economic viability of the State and Nigeria at large.
“We are here for facility tour to see for ourselves what is on ground at Jamata Port, Lokoja. It is important we come here to assess the facilities to see, at least, how we can move the facilities forward”, he stated.
Recall that in continuation of his familiarisation tour, the Managing Director’s visited the NIWA Lokoja Area office to inspect the Dockyard facilities.

Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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