September spending down, but manufacturing rises

A mixed picture of the economy emerged one day before key midterm elections that have focused on the nation’s financial health.

Spending by Americans slowed in September and their incomes fell for the first time in more than a year. At the same time, manufacturing activity grew by the most in five months and the weak construction industry showed a little life.

The new data reported by the government and a private trade group Monday suggest the economy is growing, albeit at an anemic pace. Some analysts worry that conditions could worsen after the election when government programs that have been propping up the economy end.

Consumer spending is growing, but at a much slower rate than during the summer. It rose 0.2 percent in September after 0.5 percent gains in July and August, the Commerce Department said.

A major reason spending is slowing is that incomes fell for the first time since July 2009, just after the recession officially ended. The 0.1 percent decline in September followed a 0.4 percent rise in August that had been pushed higher by the return of extended unemployment benefits.

A separate report showed manufacturing activity expanded last month at the fastest pace since May – the 15th straight month for growth. The Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing index read 56.9 in October, up from 54.4 in September. A reading above 50 indicates growth.

LAGOS, Nigeria

Offshore energy find could supply domestic market

The Nigerian subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corp. says the firm has discovered a rich gas condensate deposit off Nigeria’s southeast coastline.

Exxon Mobil said Monday that it discovered 165 net feet of rich gas condensate at the Pegi-1 discovery well, about 46 miles offshore.

The U.S. oil firm says that “significant additional potential remains in untested deeper targets” within that oil block and adjacent blocks.

The discovery comes as part of a joint venture between Exxon Mobil and the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. Exxon Mobil says the find could supply Nigeria’s growing domestic market.

Oil-rich Nigeria, an OPEC member, is one of the top crude suppliers to the U.S.


Economic indicators suggest long-term growth for China

Chinese manufacturing accelerated in October with spending on infrastructure projects spurring a jump in new equipment orders even as export demand remained subdued, surveys showed Monday.

The state-affiliated China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said its purchasing managers index, or PMI, rose to 54.7 in October from 53.8 September and 51.7 in August. Monthly readings have stayed above 50, the benchmark for expansion, for 20 straight months, it said.

China’s economic growth slowed to 9.6 percent in July-September over a year earlier, down from the previous quarter’s 10.3 percent. But the survey, an indicator of future trends, suggests the economy is on track for continued stable growth, the federation said in a notice on its website.