U.S. and World News
- Poor economic data and further currency devaluation in China continued this week and sent global stocks lower.
- President Obama delivered his 7th and final State of the Union address this week. Among the topics he discussed was ensuring opportunity for everyone, harnessing technological change and keeping the country safe. Obama lauded the economic progress the country has made since he took office but mentioned that one of his few regrets during his Presidency has been “that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better.”
- Markets continued their downward start to 2016 highlighted by a large down move to end the week. The S&P 500 declined 2.18% and closed at 1,880. Likewise, the Dow Jones fell 2.19% and closed at 15,988. So far in 2016, the S&P is down 7.96% and the Dow is down 8.19%.
- Interest rates fell during this week, reflecting the weakness in the stock markets. The 5 year and 10 year U.S. Treasury Notes are now yielding 1.46% and 2.04%, respectively.
- The spot price of WTI Crude Oil plunged again this week, dropping 10.62% to a new 52 week low of $29.64 per barrel. WTI Crude has fallen 20.00% in 2016.
- The spot price of Gold dipped 1.31% this week, closing at $1089.70 per ounce. Year to date, gold prices are up 2.70%.
- Initial jobless claims came in at 284,000 which was an increase from last week’s reading of 277,000. The Labor Department noted no special factors in the data. The four week moving average for claims now stands at 279,000.
- Headline retail sales declined by 0.1% in December, in line with expectations. However, core retail sales (excluding auto and gasoline sales) declined by 0.3%, much weaker than the estimated 0.3% increase.
- The University of Michigan consumer sentiment index improved in the initial January estimate to 93.3 from 92.6 in December. Consumers’ expectations of the future improved, however their assessment of current economic conditions declined in the month.
Fact of the Week
- According to the Social Security Administration, in 1994 there was 2.8% of America’s working-age population that was receiving Social Security disability benefits. This has increased to 5.1% of the working-age population in 2015.
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