There have been many important economic developments in recent months – many good and fewer bad. In a recent research note Northern Trust nicely summarized the positive and negative developments in the last few months:
- Initial jobless claims show a distinct downward trend
- Payroll employment continues to advance, albeit slower
- Retails sales show widespread gains in November and the underlying trend is firming up
- Net credit has risen in November, the third increase in the last five months
- Higher Treasury market yields are a vote of confidence about the economy
- Factory production has risen at a noticeable pace. Regional factory surveys in December were upbeat
- Housing starts and permits for new single-family homes rose in November.
- October Pending Home Sales Index posted a strong increase
- The positive trend of the Index of Leading Economic Indicators supports forecasts of continued economic growth
- The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index rose in the early-December survey.
- The 9.8% unemployment rate is a major source of concern for policymakers
- Sales of homes, both existing and new, declined in October and the elevated level of inventories combined with pressures from home foreclosures is holding down home prices
- Auto sales held steady in November, after increasing in three out of the four months ended October
Source: Northern Trust