More good economic news

NEW YORK -- The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index offered some hope that the economy is improving, however consumer spending not likely to reach pre-recession levels anytime soon. The Index, released Monday, rose in February, driven primarily by the slight improvements in real home prices and initial jobless claims, according to the company.

The Index attempts to track consumer cash flow as an indicator of future consumer spending.

“Despite the small gains in the Index, the recent sharp rise in energy prices could weaken consumer purchasing power in the months ahead,” said Carl Steidtmann, Deloitte’s chief economist and author of the monthly Index. “The stabilization in real home prices may also be temporary given the persistent strain on the housing market. On the upside, should the slow but steady improvement in employment continue, it may help offset price increases.”

The Index, which comprises four components -- tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages, and real home prices -- rose to 4.02 %, from an upwardly revised gain of 3.92% a month ago.

“Unsurprisingly, some retailers are concerned about rising costs and whether they can avoid passing them on to consumers,” said Alison Paul, vice chairman and retail sector leader, Deloitte LLP. “Retailers should consider costs across the entire supply chain, from strategic sourcing at the back end to the technologies and analysis they use for monitoring inventories and product movement at the front end.”

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