Businesses to increase capital spending, hiring in 2010
Survey finds increase in healthy eating, access to affordable produce
Global confectionery market grew 3% in 2008

Businesses to increase capital spending, hiring in 2010

First half of 2010 may bring small to modest improvement in spite of many economic and business headwinds.

The January NABE Industry Survey indicates that recovery in the U.S. economy is continuing, albeit at a slow pace, and firms interviewed in the survey anticipate adding employees or increasing capital investments over the next six months.

“Industry demand edged higher from the October 2009 report with an improved view towards growth in 2010,” says William Strauss of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in a press release. “Job losses have been moderating with a slightly improved outlook for hiring over the next six months. Capital spending has continued to improve from very low readings following the start of the financial crisis.”

The number of firms that increased capital spending over the prior quarter dipped in January’s survey after rising sharply from July to October. Expectations for future capital spending improved for a fifth straight quarter-positive responses trumped negative answers by a three to one ratio. Like the three previous surveys, expectations were positive for spending on computers and communications equipment but negative for structures.

The NABE report indicated that job losses continue to slowly abate, with the percentage of firms cutting payrolls falling to 28% from 31% in the October survey. The percentage of firms adding jobs edged higher to 13%. The share of respondents expecting their firms to add employees over the coming six months rose to 29% from 24%.

Other highlights from the NABE report include:

• Industry demand, including the goods-producing and service sectors, increased for a second consecutive quarter.

• The majority (61%) of survey respondents believe real GDP will expand by more than 2.0% in 2010, up from 45% of respondents in October.

• Profit margins grew for the second consecutive quarter, though the degree of improvement remained modest.

• Only 8% of respondents reported that their firms had cut prices last quarter, compared with 22% that had raised prices. Expectations for price increases in the coming quarter out-ran expected price cuts by 29 percentage points.

• The percentage of respondents noting rising prices outpaced that of respondents reporting price declines. Labor costs remain subdued, with only 12% of respondents reporting rising compensation.

• A large but declining share of respondents indicated that credit conditions had a negative impact on their businesses during 2009’s final quarter, compared with the prior period. In addition, the number of panelists reporting a positive impact from credit conditions also increased.

Survey finds increase in healthy eating, access to affordable produce

While the number of Americans who eat healthy increased in 2009, Gallup survey indicates consumption of produce also dipped slightly.

Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index data shows that more Americans said they ate healthy all day yesterday, marking a small improvement in 2009 (to 66.4% versus 65.9% in 2008). In contrast, the percentage of those reporting eating five or more servings of fresh fruits and vegetables for at least four days in the previous week slipped (to 55.6% compared to 56.4% in 2008).

Comments released with the data suggest the recession and higher unemployment may have put a dent in the consumption of fruits and vegetables, a trend was particularly evident in the opening months of 2009. However, Gallup's data indicates that trend may be abating as consumers report improving affordability of fruits and vegetables: In 2009, 91.9% of consumers surveyed said it was easy to get affordable fruits and vegetables where they live, up from 89.7% in 2008.

Gallup's analysis of the data suggests that easy access (or lack thereof) to affordable fruits and vegetables makes a difference in how people eat. The survey found that 67.4% of consumers who enjoy easy access to fruits and vegetables said they ate healthy the previous day. However, only 55.5% of consumers who did not have access to affordable fruits and vegetables said they ate healthy the previous day. Furthermore, 56.5% of those with access to affordable produce said they consumed at least five servings of fruits and vegetables at least four days the previous week, compared to 51.2% for those without easy access.

Global confectionery market grew 3% in 2008

After becoming a $127.9 billion market in 2008, confectionery will increase 15.5% through 2013, says market report.

The global confectionery market grew by 3% in 2008 and reached a value of $127.9 billion according to Confectionery: Global Industry Guide, a report issued by By 2013, the firm forecasts that world's confectionery market will be valued at $147.7 billion, an increase of 15.5% since 2008.

In terms of volume, the global confectionery market grew 2.4% in 2008, weighing in at 12.8 billion kilograms. According to the report, this volume will grow to 14.3 billion kilograms, an increase of 11.4% over 2008.

Other highlights of the research include:

• Chocolate sales generated 48.6% of the global confectionery market's value.

• Europe accounts for 48.8% of the confectionery market's value.

• Confectionery giant Mars Inc. accounts for 17% of the global confectionery market's value.

• Supermarkets and hypermarkets distribute 32.6% of the confectionery market's value.