Initial jobless claims were unchanged at 326,000. The 4-week average fell 3,500 to 331,500. Continuing claims rose 34,000 to 3.056 million.
Sales of existing homes rose 1.0% in December to a lower-than-expected 4.87 million annual rate.
The Markit PMI manufacturing index flash reading for January dropped –0.7 points to 53.7.
The Chicago Fed National Activity Index fell to 0.16 in December from a revised 0.69.
The FHFA House Price Index rose 0.1% in November, a 7.6% increase from a year ago.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index was unchanged at -31 in the latest week.
The Conference Board’s index of leading indicators rose 0.1% in December, after a strong 1.0% increase in November.
The Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index rose from -3 to 5 in January.
The Fed’s balance sheet rose $26.4 billion last week, with total assets of $4.098 trillion. Reserve Bank credit increased $37.7 billion.
The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $26.0 billion in the latest week.
Today gives us the first statistics of a very sparse week in the economic calendar.
The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 4.7% last week, with purchases down -4.0% but refinancings up 10.0%.
In weekly retail sales, Redbook reports a 3.1% increase from the previous year. ICSC-Goldman reports a weekly sales drop of -1.9%, and only a 0.9% increase on a year-over-year basis.
December housing starts fell -8.9% to a 0.999 million annual rate.
The Fed reports that industrial production rose 0.3%, while capacity utilization in the nation’s factories rose 0.2% to 79.2%.
The Reuter’s/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index fell -2.1 points to 80.4.
Weekly jobless claims fell 2,000 to 326,000. The 4-week average fell 14,000 to 335,000. Continuing claims rose 174,000 to 3.030 million.
Consumer prices rose 0.3% in December, with the core CPI up 0.1%. On a year-over year basis, the CPI is up 1.5%, and the core rate is up 1.7%.
Foreign holdings in long-term US securities fell by $-29.3 billion in November.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -2.7 points to -31.0.
The general business conditions index of the Philadelphia Fed’s Business Outlook Survey for December rose 2.4 points to 9.4.
The Housing Market Index for January fell 2 points to 56.
The Fed’s balance sheet rose $43.3 billion last week, with total assets of $4.072 trillion. Reserve Bank credit increased $24.7 billion.
The Fed reports that M2 Money Supply increased by $24.8 billion last week.
The MBA reports that mortgage applications surged 11.9% last week, with purchases up 12.0% and refinancings up 11.0%.
Producer prices rose 0.4% in December, with the core PPI up 0.3%. On a year-over year basis, the PPI is up 1.2%, and the core rate is up 1.4%.
The Empire State manufacturing index jumped to 12.51 in January, with widespread improvements in NY business conditions.
The Atlanta Fed’s Business Inflation Expectations survey stayed steady at 1.9%.
The latest Beige Book stated that the economy expanded at a "moderate pace," in 9 of the 12 Fed Districts.
I’m not sure that this will surprise anyone, given the size and intrusiveness of our government:
World economic freedom has reached record levels, according to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, released Tuesday by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. But after seven straight years of decline, the U.S. has dropped out of the top 10 most economically free countries.
For 20 years, the index has measured a nation’s commitment to free enterprise on a scale of 0 to 100 by evaluating 10 categories, including fiscal soundness, government size and property rights. These commitments have powerful effects: Countries achieving higher levels of economic freedom consistently and measurably outperform others in economic growth, long-term prosperity and social progress. Botswana, for example, has made gains through low tax rates and political stability.
Obviously the decline began before the Obama administration, but the policies of this administration have certainly hastened the decline and are certainly a primary reason for the US dropping out of the top 10:
Those losing freedom, on the other hand, risk economic stagnation, high unemployment and deteriorating social conditions. For instance, heavy-handed government intervention in Brazil’s economy continues to limit mobility and fuel a sense of injustice.
It’s not hard to see why the U.S. is losing ground. Even marginal tax rates exceeding 43% cannot finance runaway government spending, which has caused the national debt to skyrocket. The Obama administration continues to shackle entire sectors of the economy with regulation, including health care, finance and energy. The intervention impedes both personal freedom and national prosperity.
And that’s certainly been the case these past 5 years. Regulation has exploded, government intrusiveness has increased, freedom is in retreat.
Despite financial crises and recessions, the global economy has expanded by nearly 70% in 20 years, to $54 trillion in 2012 from $32 trillion in 1993. Hundreds of millions of people have left grinding poverty behind as their economies have become freer. But it is an appalling, avoidable human tragedy how many of the world’s peoples remain unfree—and poor.
The record of increasing economic freedom elsewhere makes it inexcusable that a country like the U.S. continues to pursue policies antithetical to its own growth, while wielding its influence to encourage other countries to chart the same disastrous course. The 2014 Index of Economic Freedom documents a world-wide race to enhance economic opportunity through greater freedom—and this year’s index demonstrates that the U.S. needs a drastic change in direction.
Drastic action needed, dithering and inaction expected, continued decline the result.
The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index jumped 1.4 points in December to 93.9.
December retail sales rose 0.2%, with sales less autos up 0.7%, and less autos and gas up 0.6%.
In weekly retail sales, Redbook reports a 2.9% increase from the previous year. ICSC-Goldman reports a weekly sales decrease of -0.1%, and a 1.3% increase on a year-over-year basis.
Export prices rose 0.4% in December, while import prices were unchanged. On a year-over-year basis, export prices
Business Inventories rose 0.4% in November. A 0.8% sales increase left the stock-to-sales ratio unchanged at 1.29.
Wholesale inventories rose by 0.5% in November, while a 1.0% rise in sales lowered the stock to sales ratio to 1.17, the first decline in 3 months.
A disappointing Employment Situation report shows only 74,000 new jobs were created in December. The average workweek declined a tick to 34.4 hours, while average hourly earnings rose 0.1%. The unemployment rate declined to 6.7%, though this was due to a decline in labor force participation. The labor force participation rate, at 62.8, is the lowest since March, 1978. While the civilian non-institutional population rose by 178,000 during the month, the labor force declined by 347,000. The real unemployment rate stands at 11.48%. The following chart of the employment-to-population ratio tells us everything we need to know about the labor market in this "recovery":
The Challenger Job-Cut Report shows layoffs in December hit a recovery low of 30,623.
Gallup’s US Payroll to Population index for December fell to 42.9% from 43.7% in November.
Initial jobless claims fell 15,000 last week, to 330,000. The 4-week moving average fell 9,750 to 349,000. Continuing claims rose 50,000 to 2.865 million.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.3 points to -28.4.
The Fed’s balance sheet rose $4.6 billion last week, with total assets of $4.028 trillion. Reserve Bank credit increased $1.2 billion.
The Fed reports that M2 Money Supply fell by $-10.2 billion last week.
I wonder just how intelligent the bulk of Americans are. From a Quinnipiac poll:
American voters support 71 – 27 percent raising the minimum wage. Republican support is 52 – 45 percent. Given several options:
- 33 percent of voters say increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour;
- 18 percent say increase it from the current $7.25 per hour to something less than $10.10;
- 18 percent say increase it to more than $10.10 per hour;
- 27 percent say don’t increase the minimum wage.
Raising the minimum wage will lead businesses to cut jobs, voters say 50 – 45 percent, with Republicans seeing job cuts 68 – 29 percent and Democrats saying no 65 – 29 percent. Independent voters expect job cuts 51 – 45 percent.
We’re faced with the lowest job participation numbers in a long, long time, our economy is just starting to recover, a majority of Americans know that raising the minimum wage will lead “business to cut jobs” and yet, the majority also want to raise it anyway (to include 52% of “Republicans”).
It makes you just want to throw up your ands and say “screw it”.