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Reasons for optimism: Handy offers a list

During the Handy Hardware Wholesale Spring Market in Houston, president Tina Kirbie pointed to a handful of economic indicators that bode well for hardware stores in 2011.

She started her roll call of positive macroeconomic metrics with the index of leading economic indicators, which rose 1% in December from November. The index increased 3.3% in the second half of 2010, compared with a first-half gain of 2.4%.

The Institute for Supply Management reported the 17th consecutive month of growth for the sector. "With December's strong readings in new orders and production, economists and business leaders believe that the momentum is in place going into the first quarter of 2011.”

Goldman Sachs raised its growth outlook for 2011 to 2.7% from a previous prediction of 2.0%, she said.

And the Handy president added: "Despite high unemployment, consumers who represent 70% of the economy unleashed three years of pent-up demand during the key 2010 shopping season. Sales in the 2010 holiday period were up more than 5%. That’s the biggest year-over-year growth since 2005."

Handy's 50th Anniversary Market ran Feb. 3 to 5 in Houston.

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