It may be a new year, but the positive forces that were in place on December 31, 2013 on Wall Street are still in place here in 2014. And that includes the U.S. economy, thankfully. Last week being a shortened trading week, we only got two major reports on the economy, but the quality of the news made up for the quantity of the news.
Let’s take a look at these market-moving headlines.
Jobless Claims Fall To One-Month Low
Last week, jobless claims ticked down 2,000 to a 339,000 annual rate. This just about matched economists’ estimates, who had called for a 340,000 annual rate. Meanwhile, the more stable four-week moving average rose 8,500 to 357,250. That partly because the prior week’s claims were revised up to a 341,000 annual rate, up from 338,000 earlier. This is the second week in a row that jobless claims have fallen—they are now at the lowest level in a month. Now that the seasonal volatility that comes with holiday employment has evened out, jobless claims are once again reflecting an improving jobs market.
Construction Spending Jumps to Five-Year High
In November, construction spending jumped 1%, above the 0.5% consensus estimate. Breaking it down, residential construction advanced 1.9% (following a dip in October), while construction projects surged 2.7%. What weighed down the headline figure was government construction spending, which retreated 1.8%. The key takeaway is that U.S. construction spending jumped the most in more than four years and that it’s now at its highest level in nearly five years. I’m also encouraged to see that both residential and nonresidential construction is heating up.