It was a light week on the U.S economic side. December international trade data of net imports/exports resulted in a widening of the trade deficit from November’s $47.1 billion to $48.8 billion in December. Trade deficit-oriented news is often looked at negatively in the media, but should be viewed in context. One note likely covered very little is the fact that U.S. exports reached an all-time record high of over $2 trillion in 2011. We remain the world’s engine, and this bodes well for upward revisions of the Q4 GDP figures.
The JOLTs job openings rose from 3.16 million in November to 3.34 million in December, which was good news. Initial jobless claims fell to 358,000 for the week ended Feb. 4, which was down from 373,000 the previous week and was lower than consensus. The four-week moving average (which is looked at more closely, due to its smoothing effect of outliers) is the lowest it’s been since May 2008. On the moving average basis, continuing claims are also down from the past several months. Read more