US consumers rebound to boost spending 2.4% as income jumps

US consumers rebound to boost spending 2.4% as income jumps
A man carries a Foot Locker bag as he walks down 34th Street on February 26, 2021 in Midtown Manhattan in New York City. (AP)
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Updated 27 February 2021

US consumers rebound to boost spending 2.4% as income jumps

US consumers rebound to boost spending 2.4% as income jumps
  • Concerns that a strengthening economy will accelerate inflation have sent bond yields surging

WASHINGTON: Bouncing back from months of retrenchment, America’s consumers stepped up their spending by a solid 2.4 percent in January, the sharpest increase in seven months and a sign that the economy may be poised to sustain a recovery from the pandemic recession.
Friday’s report from the Commerce Department also showed that personal incomes, which provide the fuel for spending, jumped 10 percent last month, the biggest gain in nine months, boosted by cash payments that most Americans received from the government.
The January spending increase followed two straight monthly spending drops that had raised concerns that consumers, who power most of the economy, were hunkered down, too anxious to travel, shop and spend. Last month’s sharp gain suggests that many people are growing more confident about spending, especially after receiving $600 checks that went to most adults last month in a federal economic aid package.
“The economy weakened late last year as the fiscal support faded and the pandemic intensified, but now it seems to be coming back to life,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.
The government also reported Friday that inflation by a measure preferred by the Federal Reserve rose a moderate 0.3 percent in January. That left prices up just 1.5 percent over the past 12 months, well below the Fed’s 2 percent target.
Besides receiving cash payments, many Americans who have managed to keep their jobs have also been saving money for several months rather than spending. That could bode well for the economy later this year, once consumers increasingly feel willing to spend, vaccinations are more widely administered and some version of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic aid proposal, which includes additional cash payments for individuals, is enacted.
Concerns that a strengthening economy will accelerate inflation have sent bond yields surging. On Thursday, the yield on the 10-year US Treasury note moved above 1.5 percent — a level not seen in more than a year and far above the 0.92 percent it was trading at only two months ago.
That move raised alarms on Wall Street and ignited a deep selloff in the stock market. Some investors fear that rising interest rates and the threat of inflation might lead the Fed to raise its benchmark short-term rate too quickly and potentially derail the economy. The tame inflation figure in Friday’s report from the government shows that, so far at least, price increases are mostly mild.
In testimony to Congress this week, Fed Chair Jerome Powell downplayed the inflation risk and instead underscored the economy’s struggles. Layoffs are still high. And 10 million jobs remain lost to the pandemic that erupted nearly a year ago. That’s a deeper job loss than was inflicted by the Great Recession of 2008-2009.
Still, despite the weakened job market, key sectors of the economy are showing signs of picking up as vaccinations increase and government rescue aid works its way through the economy. The Fed’s ultra-low-rate policy is providing important support as well.
Retail sales soared last month. Factory output also rose and has nearly regained its pre-pandemic levels. And sales of newly built homes jumped in January.
Friday’s report showed that consumers boosted their purchases of durable goods — from autos to appliances — by a strong 8.4 percent last month. Spending on nondurable goods, which include food and clothing, increased 4.3 percent.
By contrast, spending on services barely eked out a 0.7 percent gain. America’s service sector, which includes restaurants, entertainment venues and other face-to-face establishments, has been pummeled by the widespread reluctance or inability of consumers to travel, shop or dine out.
Consumers saved a significant chunk of their income last month: The personal savings rate jumped to 20.5 percent, from 13.4 percent in December.
With so many Americans forgoing out-of-town travel, shopping trips and indoor dining, the savings rate has been climbing, contributing to expectations for a surge in spending once more people feel comfortable resuming their previous spending habits.
“There is a lot of economic juice coming,” Zandi said. “I think the economy is going to be booming by later this year.”


Revenue management systems key to success of Saudi health reforms says KPMG

Revenue management systems key to success of Saudi health reforms says KPMG
Updated 19 April 2021

Revenue management systems key to success of Saudi health reforms says KPMG

Revenue management systems key to success of Saudi health reforms says KPMG
  • The Kingdom’s Ministry of Health (MoH) is transitioning from being an all-in-one payer, provider and regulator of health services to becoming a regulator

RIYADH: Robust revenue cycle management systems will be essential for Saudi Arabia’s new health care model, KPMG said in a report.
The Kingdom’s Ministry of Health (MoH) is transitioning from being an all-in-one payer, provider and regulator of health services to becoming a regulator, governing corporate payers and providers.
A key aspect of this transformation is the separation of the payer and the provider functions in the public health care sector, KPMG said. To facilitate future reimbursement to public health care providers, the Ministry of Health has set up the Program for Health Assurance and Purchasing (PHAP).
In addition, the Council of Cooperative Health Insurance (CCHI) has also firmed up regulations for private insurers.
With the introduction of mandatory health insurance underway in the public sector in the Kingdom and the wish to standardize across the public and private sector, Saudi health care providers will need to develop new capabilities to be able to generate revenue under the new reimbursement system, KPMG reported.  
“One of the key implications for health care providers of this introduction is the transformation of how health care service providers are reimbursed. Providers will primarily be paid on a per-patient basis, rather than via allocated budgets from the government,” said Emmeline Roodenburg, head of health care at KPMG in Saudi Arabia.
Patient acceptance and registration; billing and claims management; patient treatment and documentation; and coding and grouping are the four key operational elements of the Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) under the new mechanism.
While the risks that come with having a poor RCM function can be managed and mitigated, if they are left unchecked then the consequences could include revenue losses and fines for inaccurate invoicing, KPMG said.


Fashion retailers launch dedicated Gulf online stores

Fashion retailers launch dedicated Gulf online stores
Updated 19 April 2021

Fashion retailers launch dedicated Gulf online stores

Fashion retailers launch dedicated Gulf online stores
  • The website will feature new collections of the fashion line, as well as exclusive deals for online shoppers

DUBAI: Global fashion brands are launching dedicated online platforms as the pandemic upends shopping habits in the region.

Brands are launching dedicated channels as online shopping booms across the region.

Germany-based Hugo Boss has become the latest brand to open a regional online store serving Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.

Customers can now shop through those dedicated online platforms, which will feature exclusive deals and collections.

E-commerce leaders said the pandemic has accelerated the industry's digital push.

Last year, luxury brands Bulgari, Louis Vuitton, and Dior launched their online selling platforms in the region, at the height of COVID-19-induced lockdowns and curfews.

Diesel has also announced an e-commerce platform targeting the UAE and Saudi markets.

Fashion labels  have been reinventing ways to engage with customers who are used to visiting stores to try on garments.

Some companies have also started to use 3D technology and augmented reality to create a holistic shopping experience for their customers.

 


Riyadh allows development on endowed lands as it eyes population doubling

Riyadh allows development on endowed lands as it eyes population doubling
Updated 19 April 2021

Riyadh allows development on endowed lands as it eyes population doubling

Riyadh allows development on endowed lands as it eyes population doubling
  • The decision allows planning, development, sale, purchase and other services

RIYADH: The Royal Commission for the City of Riyadh (RCRC) has lifted the suspension of development on large parts of the endowed lands north of King Salman Road, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The decision allows planning, development, sale, purchase and other services, provided that everything is compatible with the urban code of the city.
It is part of a series of measures aimed at helping the Saudi capital accommodate twice the current population by 2030, RCRC said
The commission said that Riyadh’s strategy is expected to put the city among the top ten cities in the world in terms of economy, competitiveness and quality of life by 2030.
A specialized committee has been formed to look into land affairs and the RCRC has also created a call center to improve communication with the public.

 


Saudi public debt issuance up 50% in 2020 to $43.4bn

Saudi public debt issuance up 50% in 2020 to $43.4bn
Updated 19 April 2021

Saudi public debt issuance up 50% in 2020 to $43.4bn

Saudi public debt issuance up 50% in 2020 to $43.4bn
  • The market value of stocks and debt instruments reached SR9.8 trillion by the end of 2020

RIYADH:  Saudi public debt issuance increased by nearly 50 percent in 2020 to SR163 billion ($43.4 billion), the Capital Market Authority reported.
Non-government debt issuance increased by more than 250 percent reaching SR31 billion compared to SR9 billion in 2019.  
The market value of stocks and debt instruments reached SR9.8 trillion by the end of 2020, the Authority said in its annual report.
That represented a rise of 335 percent when compared to 2017 when it launched its three-year Financial Leadership Program that ran until last year.
The Authority has been developing its strategic plan for the next three years 2021-2023 in line with updated plans to expand the Kingdom's financial sector.


DP World explores quantum computing technology to optimize business

DP World explores quantum computing technology to optimize business
Updated 19 April 2021

DP World explores quantum computing technology to optimize business

DP World explores quantum computing technology to optimize business
  • The company organized training sessions for its employees, as well as actual quantum computing coding exercises

DUBAI: Dubai’s port company DP World is exploring quantum computing technology to optimize its operations, the company said in a statement.

It said it was working with D-Wave Systems, a Canadian quantum computing company, to look at how the advanced technology can be applied to DP World’s logistics and trade business.

The company organized training sessions for its employees, as well as actual quantum computing coding exercises.

The technology, DP World said, can be applied to industrial logistics, fleet and traffic management, and other operations across the supply chain.

“Quantum computing capabilities complement our need to reach ultimate smart trade and achieve a seamless logistics infrastructure, where everything is connected, devices work in harmony, and all our operations components communicate with each other intelligently,” Mohammed Al-Muallem, DP World’s chief executive, said.

Quantum computers provide exponential processing power to solve complex problems, better than traditional computers.

The move is part of DP World’s digital push.