Take stock_May 21

The rate of decline in the leading indicators’ five-month average slowed to 1.1 per cent in April from 1.5 per cent in March.

Leading indicators reverse decline in March

The rate of decline in the leading indicators’ five-month average slowed to 1.1 per cent in April from 1.5 per cent in March. Statistics Canada reports both financial components increased in March, as the money supply expanded steadily while the stock market turned up. The agency says the index rose 0.5 over the month previous, after seven straight declines.

The indicators of household demand continued to descend. The drop in the housing index eased to 1.2 per cent, the smallest decline in seven months, as existing home sales firmed.

Sales of durable goods continued to retrench and the manufacturing indicators fell less rapidly than the month before. New orders slowed to a 7.3 per cent decrease while lower inventories helped moderate the rate of decline in the ratio of shipments to inventories. Export demand benefited from a slower contraction of the U.S. economy. The leading indicator for the United States eased to a 0.3 per cent drop, its smallest loss in six months.

New credit card rules coming Thursday

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will unveil new credit card regulations on Thursday, a day after the U.S. Congress passed a “bill of rights” for credit cardholders, the Globe and Mail reported. The newspaper said the Canadian measures are expected to include the imposition of a minimum 21-day grace period, and requirements that financial institutions provide better disclosure about interest rates. The government wants clear and simple information on credit card application forms and contracts, as well as clear and timely advance notice of changes in rates and fees. Flaherty has assured sources in the financial industry that he will not be taking tougher measures, such as imposing a ceiling on interest rates.