By Staff | March 4, 2010 | Last updated on March 4, 2010
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American consumer confidence has risen in early March, recovering from a slump in February, according to the latest reading of the RBC CASH (Consumer Attitudes and Spending by Household) Index.

The index soared 18.8 points to 58.2 in March, as consumer outlook for their own economic condition and the job market improved.

“The volatile results of the RBC Index in recent months underscore just how fragile consumer confidence has been since the recession began,” said Tom Porcelli, U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets. “In spite of statistical indicators showing that the recession is over, many consumers do not yet see evidence of a strong recovery in their own lives and are unsure of what to believe. We are unlikely to see a consistent upward trend until consumers are convinced that a solid recovery is in place.”

Attitudes about current conditions climbed 26.2 points in March, bringing the RBC Current Conditions Index to 56.7, its highest level since May 2008. In particular, consumers were more optimistic about their personal financial situation and their purchasing power.

The investment sub-index climbed 24.3 points to 65.1, a highwater mark not seen since January 2008. Still, 52% of respondents said they were less confident in their ability to make investments for the future.

The jobs sub-index gained 13.3 points to 68.2, its highest level since November 2008. The number of Americans reporting personal job losses declined to 61%, from 67% in February.

The RBC Expectations Index remained in negative territory, though, as near-term economic outlook are still volatile. This sub-index stands at 57.3, up 9.3 points from February’s level, with 10% of consumers saying their personal finances will be weaker in six months.

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Manulife expands Chinese presence

Manulife-Sinochem has been granted two new licenses from the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) to operate in two cities with a combined population of about 18 million.

“We are very pleased to be able to open new sales offices in Yancheng and Linyi and look forward to providing these two new markets the quality insurance products and excellent service Manulife-Sinochem is known for,” said Marc Sterling, chairman of Manulife-Sinochem.

Linyi is a city of 10 million people in Shandong province and Yancheng, with 8 million, is in Jiangsu province.

Manulife-Sinochem now holds 41 licenses in China, making it one of the largest insurance foreign-invested joint venture networks in China. The new licenses give the company access to more than 300 million individuals.

“With 14 years experience in the areas of agency training, product design, market exploration and customer service in China, Manulife-Sinochem looks forward to rapid development in the insurance market of these two important locations,” said James Lin, president of Manulife-Sinochem.

The company has over 11,000 professionally trained agents and employees, providing financial and insurance services to over 500,000 customers.

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RBC launches daily-rebalanced U.S. Treasury Index

RBC Capital Markets has rolled out a new benchmark index for U.S. Treasuries, the RBC Total Return U.S. Treasury (TRUST) Index, which features daily rebalancing.

As the first daily-rebalanced U.S. Treasury Index, the results provide portfolio managers, mutual fund managers and investors with a comprehensive, real-time and accurate view of the U.S. Treasury.

The overall TRUST Index is comprised of nine sub-indexes:

• Overall market, containing all maturities across the yield curve • 1 to 3 year • 3 to 5 year • 5 year and up • 5 to 7 year • 5 to 10 year • 10 year and up • 15 year and up • 20 year and up

“By rebalancing daily, the RBC Index differs vastly from existing indices that are rebalanced once per month, and provides a much more accurate and real-time performance measure across the full spectrum of U.S.-issued government bonds,” said Ira Jersey, RBC Capital Markets’ head of U.S. interest rate strategy.

“The index will be of great benefit to institutional money managers across the globe who track U.S. Treasuries, as it allows them to update their portfolios daily, and is also very appealing from a research perspective.”

(03/04/10) staff


The staff of have been covering news for financial advisors since 1998.