WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer spending slowed in August and personal income fell as a $600 weekly benefit for Americans who are unemployed during the pandemic expired.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that spending grew by just 1%, the weakest growth since spending fell 12.7% in April when rapidly spreading COVID-19 infections shut down large parts of the economy.

A 2.7% drop in income in August followed a gain of 0.5% in the previous month. The drop reflected the expiration of the $600 expanded unemployment benefit on July 31. Congress has so far failed to come up with a new virus relief package that would restore that benefit.


Economists fear that without further government support, the economy will slow significantly in the final three months of this year as consumer spending slows with millions of people still out of work and government support fading.

“Unless employment growth picks up or additional fiscal aid is extended, consumer spending is at risk of slowing dramatically,” said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics.

Inflation, as measured by a gauge tied to consumer spending, rose 0.3% in August and is up 1.4% over the past 12 months. That is well below the Federal Reserve’s target to achieve 2% annual gains in inflation.

The Fed in August said it was changing its policy to delay rate hikes until inflation has risen above 2% for a period of time, a change that should keep consumer and business borrowing costs lower for an extended period of time. The Fed projected no hikes of its benchmark rate through 2023.

The 2.7% drop in incomes reflected a huge 14.8% decline in the category that covers government payments including unemployment benefits. Democrats and Republicans have been unable to restore the expired benefits because of wide differences between the

Singtel’s consumer business chief will assume the role of group CEO next year, as the Singapore telco’s current head is set to retire. The announcement is the latest to reveal a change at the top seat amongst telcos in the country over the past couple of years.

A 27-year veteran at the company, Yuen Kuan Moon joined the telco in 1993 and currently is CEO of Singtel’s Singapore consumer business as well as chief digital officer. He has held several leadership positions including in marketing, business development, and at Telkomsel in Indonesia. 

CEO of Singtel’s consumer business since 2012, Yuen would take over as group CEO from January 2021, when current chief Chua Sock Koong was scheduled to retire. The latter will remain as senior advisor to the chairman and help guide the transition.

His appointment had followed a global search that assessed both internal and external candidates, said Singtel in a statement Thursday. 

Singtel Chairman Lee Theng Kiat said: “[Yuen’s] years of honed experience in the company’s core telecom business, and his more recent focus on transforming the group digitally for growth, make him extremely well placed to lead Singtel forward in an era of disruption.”

Yuen said Singtel was at an “exciting juncture” with 5G poised to impact the telecommunications sector as well as other industries. The executive holds a First Class Honours engineering degree from the University of Western Australia and a Master of Science in Management from Stanford University.

Chua had assumed the CEO position in 2007 and had been with Singtel since 1989. 

During her stint as chief, the telco had added Optus in Australia to its portfolio as well as invested stakes in major telecommunication players in India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand, Lee said. She also led Singtel’s digital transformation, including the digitalisation

The numbers: Consumer confidence rose in September to the highest level since the coronavirus pandemic began after the number of cases declined and the economic forged ahead, a closely followed survey showed.

The index of consumer confidence rose to 101.8 this month from 86.3 in August, the Conference Board said Tuesday. It was the biggest one-month increase in 17 years.

Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a smaller increase in the index to 89.6. The level of confidence in August was also revised slightly higher after initially showing the lowest reading since the pandemic began more than six months ago.

“A more favorable view of current business and labor market conditions, coupled with renewed optimism about the short-term outlook, helped spur this month’s rebound in confidence,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the board.

See:MarketWatch Coronavirus Recovery Tracker

What happened: An index that gauges how consumers feel about the economy right now jumped to 98.5 in September from 85.8 in the prior month.

Another gauge that assesses how Americans view the next six months—the so-called future expectations index—surged to 104 from 86.6.

The rebound in confidence almost certainly reflects a decline in coronavirus cases after a midsummer spike.

Perhaps more surprising, a reduction in federal benefits for the unemployed did little to dampen the optimism. A $600 federal unemployment stipend expired at the end of July. President Trump authorized temporary $300 payments, but the money is already running out and Congress is deadlocked on what to do next.

Big picture: The springback in consumer confidence after two straight declines is welcome news, suggesting a U.S. recovery is still on track even if growth has tapered off since the late spring. Although millions of Americans remain out of work, more people are returning to their jobs and

Updated


WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer confidence rebounded more quickly in September than most economists had expected though they remain far from levels that were the norm before the pandemic struck.

The Conference Board reported Tuesday that its consumer confidence index rose sharply to a reading of 101.8, up from 86.3 in August, largely due to a more favorable view on current business and labor market conditions.

NEW YORK, Sept. 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Spruce, the proptech company powering online real estate transactions nationwide, today announced its partnership with Munich Re, one of the world’s leading reinsurers, to bring cost-effective title insurance fueled by automation to the U.S. market.

The partnership pairs Munich Re’s technical and risk expertise and financial strength with Spruce’s agility and proprietary API-driven technology to help solve a historically stagnant aspect of the title insurance and mortgage industries: price. In addition, U.S. homeowners, investors, and lenders will continue to have access to Spruce’s digital real estate transaction process.

“The consumer experience is at the core of our mission and values,” said Patrick Burns, Spruce CEO and co-founder. “Our automated underwriting paired with the backing and security of Munich Re allows us to offer lower pricing for title insurance and a best-in-class experience for lenders, real estate companies, and consumers. As a result, we can further reduce the friction in real estate and mortgage transactions for all involved, bringing us closer to a one-click checkout for real estate transactions.”

Title insurance policies will be underwritten by American Digital Title Insurance Company, which is owned by Digital Partners, a Munich Re company. The partnership with Munich Re also builds on Spruce’s existing relationship with Munich Re Ventures, which is an investor in the proptech company.

“The partnership aims to offer a faster and more efficient product for mortgage lenders, investors, and consumers,” said Dave Brune, North American CEO, Digital Partners, and Director of American Digital Title Insurance Company. “At Digital Partners, we’re partnering with tech startups that are using new tools to improve the entire insurance process for distributors and consumers alike. We’re excited to support Spruce’s unique tech-focused approach to alleviate some of the pain points for homebuyers and