Here are a few new signs that — while things overall are pretty bad — the economy is still slowly improving.
Exports hit their highest level since 2008, according to July trade figures released this morning. Imports also fell, so the trade deficit declined from the previous month.
Initial claims for unemployment fell last week by 27,000, to 451,000, the Department of Labor said. The four-week moving average — which is often cited because it smooths out week-to-week volatility — also fell by more than 9,000. It's the lowest level for weekly claims since July, Calculated Risk notes, though the figure is still high by historical standards.
The economy grew "at a modest pace" in most parts of the country between mid-July and the end of August, the Fed said yesterday. But there were also "widespread signs" that the rate of growth was slowing, with particular weakness in construction and real estate.