Delta Impact Increasingly Threatens Some Parts of U.S. Economy

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Delta Impact Increasingly Threatens Some Parts of U.S. Economy
Credit: © Reuters.

(Bloomberg) -- From event cancellations to consumer behavior, there are growing signs the coronavirus delta variant risks slowing the pace of the U.S. economic recovery.

Because any effect from the delta variant will take time to emerge in traditional monthly indicators, economists and policy makers are closely watching a mix of anecdotal and high-frequency data for any signs of impact.

Some events, like the New York International Auto Show, are being canceled due to virus concerns. Companies including Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL ) Inc.’s Google, Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN ). and BlackRock Inc (NYSE: BLK ). have all recently pushed back plans to return to the office as well.

But trying to decipher the impact of delta from a plethora of other cross currents in the economy in high frequency data is challenging.

Total spending using Bank of America Corp (NYSE: BAC ). debit and credit cards “decelerated meaningfully” last week, economists Michelle Meyer and Anna Zhou wrote in a note Thursday.

While the moderation is likely partly noise -- reflecting the timing of the pay period and the mid-July boost from Child Tax Credit payments -- the pullback in spending on air travel and entertainment could be a result of the variant, the BofA economists wrote.

Looking at the U.S. as a whole, the improvement in OpenTable restaurant bookings has largely stalled in recent months, holding below its 2019 levels. But reservations in virus hot-spot states like Florida and Texas remain above levels seen during a comparable time frame in 2019.

Meanwhile, a back-to-work gauge from Kastle Systems, a company that tracks electronic access to office buildings, showed a slight pullback last week from its pandemic peak a week earlier. But it’s unclear whether that’s weekly volatility or the start of a broader trend.

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© Bloomberg. Customers dine indoors at Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Saturday, July 31, 2021. Philadelphia, as well as Montgomery and Delaware counties, are seeing

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