U.S. and World News
- Following a seven hour debate, the Senate narrowly passed a budget resolution this week, clearing the first major hurdle in the Republican effort to repeal Obamacare. House leaders have now taken on the resolution amid pressure from President-elect Donald Trump who has said that a repeal and replacement of Obamacare should happen essentially simultaneously.
- A week before leaving office, President Obama announced an end to the “wet foot, dry foot” policy that allowed Cubans who arrived in the United States without visas to pursue residency after one year. This will likely mark his last major change that his administration will make to U.S.-Cuba relations after he previously lifted the long standing embargo with the country and cleared the way for travel to the island nation.
- This week the S&P 500 dipped modestly by 0.10%, closing at 2,275. The Dow Jones Industrial Average decreased by 0.39% and closed at 19,886.
- Interest rates continued to retreat a bit from their recent highs. The 5 year and 10 year U.S. Treasury Notes now yield 1.90% and 2.40%, respectively.
- The spot price of WTI Crude Oil declined by 2.72% this week and closed at $52.52 per barrel.
- The spot price of Gold increased by 2.11% this week, closing at $1,197.34 per ounce.
- Weekly initial jobless claims came in at 247,000, an increase from last week’s reading of 235,000. The Labor Department noted no major distortions to the data this week. The four week moving average for jobless claims now stands at 257,000.
- Headline retail sales for the month of December grew 0.6%, slightly below expectations of 0.7%. The headline number was aided by gains in gas prices and vehicle sales. Core retail sales (excludes autos, gas stations, building materials) was up only 0.2%, below expectations of 0.4%. The report showed non-store retail (includes online shopping) improving by 1.3% during the month but sales for department stores, electronics stores and restaurants declining.
- The University of Michigan consumer sentiment index was approximately unchanged at 98.1 in the preliminary January report, following a sizable increase in December. The measure of current conditions increased, while the survey’s expectations of the future decreased a bit.
Fact of the Week
- According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the United States will need to spend $3.32 trillion over the next decade to fix our nation’s infrastructure, including $2.04 trillion on roads and bridges.
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