Preliminary report: U.S. Consumer Sentiment Index declines
New York City A preliminary report released Thursday by Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan showed an unexpected decline in confidence among U.S. consumers.
The preliminary index of consumer sentiment fell to 66.6 from 68.9 in August, below even the most pessimistic forecast by Bloomberg News.
Economists forecast the confidence measure would rise to 70, according to the Bloomberg survey median of 65 economists whose estimates ranged from 68 to 73. The index, which declined this month to the lowest level since August 2009, averaged 89 in the five years leading up to the recession that began in December 2007.
Also revealed in the report, the University of Michigan gauge of consumer expectations for six months from now decreased to 59.1, the lowest since March 2009.
About 67% of those surveyed said they anticipate “bad financial conditions” in the coming year. All of the decrease in the consumer sentiment index was recorded among households with incomes above $75,000. The decline in that group reflected a decrease in sentiment about personal finance, buying plans and prospects for the U.S. economy. Confidence rose among lower-income households, according to the report.
The University of Michigan’s gauge of current conditions, which reflects Americans’ perceptions of their financial situation and whether it is a good time to buy such big-ticket items as cars, rose to 78.4 from 78.3 in the prior month.
The preliminary Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer confidence report reflects about 300 responses, compared with 500 households for the final survey.
Sears launches waste-prevention plan
HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. Sears Holdings announced a new agreement with WasteWise, the country’s first national voluntary solid waste reduction program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
As a WasteWise partner, Sears Holdings said it pledges to continue to establish new waste-prevention activities, expand or improve its current recycling efforts, and purchase and/or manufacturer additional products with recycled content. The programs Sears Holdings initiates as part of its participation in WasteWise will build on the successes of its established waste-prevention and recycling efforts to make these programs even stronger.
According to Michael Brown, director, environmental sustainability, “Our environmental sustainability, environmental affairs, store operations, and procurement teams have been proactively working to implement sustainable solutions throughout Sears Holdings Corporation and its U.S. affiliates. We hope our partnership with WasteWise will help us learn new techniques and best practices that will continue to reduce costs, preserve natural resources and protect the environment.”
GameStop to authorize $500M in additional repurchase funds
GRAPEVINE, Texas GameStop announced that its board of directors has authorized $500 million in additional repurchase funds. $300 million of the additional funds will be used in the company’s share repurchase plan and $200 million will be used to retire the company’s senior notes. This program is incremental to the initial $300 million stock repurchase plan announced in January 2010 and completed in the company’s second fiscal quarter of 2010.
J. Paul Raines, CEO, stated, “We are pleased that the board authorized this additional buyback in 2010 as the next phase in our long-term plan to increase total shareholder return. We have confidence in the business to continue delivering consistent cash flow, which gives us the ability to invest in our core business, digital initiatives and enhance shareholder value.”
Under the program, GameStop may purchase debt or shares through open market purchases, debt calls or privately negotiated transactions in compliance with SEC regulations and other legal requirements. The timing and actual amount of debt or shares repurchased will depend on several factors including price, capital availability and other market conditions. This repurchase program does not have any specific limitations and may be suspended or terminated at any time.