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Consumer Confidence ticks upward

BY Ken Clark

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had declined in June, improved slightly in July.

Released Tuesday morning, the index now stands at 59.5 (1985=100), up from a downwardly revised 57.6 in June. 

Last year, July’s index stood at 51.0. The Present Situation Index decreased to 35.7 from 36.6. The Expectations Index rose to 75.4 from 71.6 last month.

Said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center: “Consumer confidence posted a modest gain in July, the result of an improvement in consumers’ short-term outlook. Consumers’ appraisal of current business and employment conditions, however, was less favorable as concerns about the labor market continue to weigh on consumers’ attitudes. Overall, consumers remain apprehensive about the future, but some of the concern expressed last month has abated.”

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by The Nielsen Co., a leading global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for July’s preliminary results was July 14, 2011.

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Readers Respond to test kits and lead rule

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The following letter was a response to "EPA lead rule suffers setback:"

"There is no need for a better ‘test kit,’ as highly reliable and affordable X-Ray Fluorescence technology has been in use for decades. There are many consultants who have XRF machines, and lead inspections are inexpensive. XRF testing produces no damage, while ‘test kits’ and chip sampling involves producing widely scattered damage (12 to 15 sample locations for a typical room in a house).

“The reality is that lead-based paint is rare in residential buildings constructed from 1960 to 1978, and is not everywhere in older buildings. EPA’s big mistake was not requiring that the buildings be inspected, so that procedures for dealing with lead-based paint are only used where it is actually present.”
— F. Stephen Masek

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3M posts strong second quarter

BY HBSDealer Staff

St. Paul, Minn.-based 3M has reported second-quarter net income of $1.16 billion, up 3.6% from $1.12 billion in the second quarter of 2010. Net sales totaled $7.7 billion, up 14.1% from $6.7 billion in the year-ago period.

Sales increased in all regions: Europe was up 24.1%, Latin America/Canada was up 20.2%, Asia Pacific was up 11%, and the United States was up 8.7%.

“We posted record second-quarter sales and earnings per share and generated significant free cash flow in the quarter, and we did so in the face of some sizable headwinds,” said George Buckley, 3M chairman, president and CEO. “Most significant was the impact of the Japan earthquake, which was in line with our projections.

“3M’s innovation engine continues to accelerate, and we expect further growth in new products this year. While economic growth moderated a bit in the second quarter, we believe that the global economy will continue to expand, and 3M is well positioned to capitalize on that growth,” Buckley added.

For the first six months of 2011, 3M posted net income of $2.24 billion, up 9% from $2.05 billion in the same period of 2010. Net sales for the period totaled $15 billion, up 15% from $13 billion in the first six months of 2010.

3M expects that 2011 full-year earnings will be in the range of $6.10 to $6.25 per share versus a prior expectation of $6.05 to $6.25 per share.

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