Employment

On the 4 th of December, the Labor Department reported that 221,000 private sector jobs were created in the month of November, and 228,000 payrolls in all. The unemployment rate declined to 4.1%. The unemployment rate in November was the lowest measured in 17 years. The labor participation rate remained constant at 62.7%. (5)

Manufacturing

The ISM manufacturing index (formerly known as the NAPM Survey) is constructed so that any level at 50 or above signifies growth in the services sector. (3)

 

Gross Domestic Product

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the broadest measure of aggregate economic activity and encompasses every sector of the economy. (4)

On the 21 st of December, the final estimate of GDP growth for the 3 rd quarter was released and showed economic growth expanding by 3.2%. The previous reading showed expansion of 3.3%. Consumer spending was up by a 2.2% rate, and non residential fixed investment posted a third consecutive strong quarter with a gain of 4.7%. (4)

Consumer Confidence

Consumer Confidence is important because the pattern in consumer attitudes can be a key influence on markets, as such spending drives two thirds of economic activity. On the 27 th of December, the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index stood at 122.1. This was just off the strongest reading since December of 2000, which was set in November, at 129.5. 15.2% said that jobs were hard to find, down from 16.8% in November and 17.1% in October. This was a very strong consumer confidence report. (6)

Housing

The year over year gain for this index stood at 6.4% as of the 26 th of December. All 20 cities showed year over year gains, and the month over month gain for the index stood at 0.7%. This is the strongest run for the index in over four years. (2)

New Home Sales

On the 22 nd of December, the latest report on new home sales was released. The new home sales reading was up 17.5% in November, rising to an annualized rate of 733,000 home sales. This index continues to show strength in housing. It remains a seller’s market, with a very thin 4.6 months supply on the market as of the end of November. 

Income and Expenditures

Personal consumption is an important metric to monitor. On the 22 nd of December, it was reported that personal income was higher by 0.3% month over month, and consumption was up 0.6% month over month. Normally, higher levels of confidence eventually translate into healthy patterns of spending, and such bodes well for the first quarter of 2018. The PCE Price Index, an inflation measure closely watched by the Federal Reserve, was up to 1.8%. This reading stood at 2.1% as of the end of the first quarter, however many economist argue this supports recent measures by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates, as inflation is evident at the core level excluding food and recent