Chin Up in the Downswing: Housewares Bank on Home Cooking, Window Maker Rehires Employees, Nasdaq Closes Up on 2008
by Anne Szustek
Among today’s positive financial and economic indicators: the housewares sector looks to build upon the home-entertainment trend; Andersen Windows hires back laid-off employees to keep up with demand; and the Nasdaq closed up on 2008 for the first time this year.
The housewares industry, which is worth some $300 billion globally, hopes that the recession-inspired trend of home cooking will translate into increased sales. “That’s a huge opportunity for housewares,” Tom Mirabile, a vice president and trend analyst for Lifetime Brands, told Reuters during an interview at Chicago’s International Home and Housewares Show. After years of relying on takeout and housecleaning services, consumers need to buy home appliances so they can get domestic tasks done cost effectively, Mirabile points out. Cookware retailer Williams-Sonoma on Tuesday reported profit that surpassed analysts’ expectations, although the store pulled in 90 percent less profit than it did a year earlier.
Some window manufacturers recently reported an increase in sales on the back of tax credits outlined in last month’s federal stimulus package. Window makers can take advantage of a provision in the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that grants $1,500 tax breaks to homeowners who install energy-efficient windows. Among the manufacturers reporting gains: Bayport, Minn.-based Andersen Windows, which has called back 180 of the 560 workers they furloughed in January, reports MinnPost.
A surge in tech stocks helped boost the Nasdaq to close 58 points, or 3.8 percent higher, to end the day at 1,577 on Thursday, making it up on the year for the first time since Jan. 8. Apple, Research In Motion, Intel and Microsoft all reported gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 were also both up on the back of investor confidence on the Treasury’s $98 billion auction of its securities. They sold at a 2.384 percent yield, about what analysts had projected; in addition, bidders “offered 2.5 times the size of the issue, a sign of strong demand,” MSN Money reports.