Last Week in the News

The Institute for Supply Management reported that the monthly index of manufacturing activity rose to 58.4 in January after reaching 54.9 in December. It was the sixth straight month of expansion and the fastest pace of growth since August 2004. A reading above 50 signals expansion.

The Commerce Department reported that total construction spending fell 1.2% in December after a downwardly revised 1.2% decline in November. Economists had expected a decrease of 0.5%.

The National Association of Realtors reported that its pending home sales index, a forward-looking indicator based on signed contracts, rose 1% in December. Compared to a year ago, pending home sales are up 11%.

The U.S. non-manufacturing sector rose to 50.5 in January from a downwardly revised 49.8 in December. A reading above 50 signals expansion. Economists had anticipated a reading of 51.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage applications for the week ending January 29 rose 21% to 620.7. Purchase volume increased 10.3% to 237.8. Refinancing applications jumped 26.3% to 2,854.8.

The Commerce Department reported that factory orders rose 1% in December. That was double the 0.5% increase economists had anticipated. It was the fourth straight gain and follows a revised 1% increase in November.

The Labor Department reported that productivity rose at an annual rate of 6.2% in the fourth quarter, following a revised third-quarter gain of 7.2%. Labor costs fell at an annual rate of 4.4%.

The unemployment rate fell to 9.7% in January from 10% in December. Employers cut 20,000 jobs in January, far fewer than the 150,000 jobs lost in December. The four-week average for continuing jobless claims fell 51,250 to 4.618 million.

Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on wholesale trade on February 9, retail sales on February 11 and consumer sentiment on February 12.

 

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