A currency-swapping arrangement among leading central banks that was due to expire Feb. 1 is being extended another year. The European Central Bank, the Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the Swiss National Bank and the Bank of Canada are participating, while the Bank of Japan is considering joining. The idea is to make sure each bank has quick access to the currency it needs as the world continues to wrestle with consequences of the financial crisis.
The cost of construction materials remains a "mixed bag," according to a price report released by the Associated General Contractors of America. "The recent price decreases are very welcome after years of price spikes that contractors could not pass on in a weak construction market," said Ken Simonson, the AGC's chief economist.
Despite weakness in the global economy, China's manufacturing activity reached a 14-month high this month, according to a preliminary purchasing managers index by HSBC Holdings. The index hit 50.9, increasing from 50.5 in November, on a scale in which anything higher than 50 indicates expansion.
Confidence in the equipment-finance industry increased slightly this month, according to an index by the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation. The monthly index reached 62.1 in April, up from March's 61.7. This is the fourth straight month of increase. Thomas Jaschik, president of BB&T Equipment Finance, said still-cautious consumers made respondents cautious as well.
Confidence in the equipment-finance industry increased this month, according to the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation. The Monthly Confidence Index for the Equipment Finance Industry reached 61.7, compared with February's 59.6.