|Weekly unemployment claims (Credit: Calculated Risk)|
- Initial weekly unemployment claims have been trending down for a while (at right).
- The national unemployment rate is at 8.5%; it will be interesting to see the numbers for January (reported next Friday.)
- The 4th quarter of 2011 saw 2.8% real GDP growth. That's weak for a recovery, but the best rate since the 2nd quarter of 2010.
- 2011 was a terrible year for new home sales because of distressed home sales (foreclosures, etc.) The Case-Shiller index is expected to show a 3.2% year-over-year drop in prices next week.
- Paul Hodges says that crude oil inventories are up (good news)?
In related news, the Federal Open Market Committee intends to keep interest rates low:
In particular, the Committee decided today to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and currently anticipates that economic conditions--including low rates of resource utilization and a subdued outlook for inflation over the medium run--are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate at least through late 2014.Yay for borrowers, boo for savers.
Overall, the US economy appears to be muddling through. Trouble spots include oil prices, the European economy (and the continuing (resolving?) debt crisis) and the slowing Chinese economy. Let's hope employment for chemists starts on a positive trend, eh?