Last Week in Brief: January 10

January 13, 2014

In spite of global economic recovery indications, financial markets have opened the year tentatively.
Still, most U.S. economic data is positive. Though, the labor data remains as confusing as a politician on a polygraph.
To say that the Bureau of Labor's statistics are toothless is an insult to people with severe dental problems. The unemployment rate drops. As does the Labor Participation Rate. Weekly jobless claims fall. While new job growth does likewise. Is the labor market improving or not?
What a year, eh? 2013 was enough to make you consider day trading your retirement money. Though, this white paper from the Social Sciences Research Network will quickly deter you from that idea.
Take a look at Esquire's 50 moments that defined 2013 in America, here.
The Good
TARP has been concluded. And believe it or not, taxpayers showed a profit.
D.C.'s conciliatory attitude continued, Congress compromised on a budget extension. And Democrats appear ready to compromise on next week's emergency unemployment benefits bill.
Initial jobless claims fell by 330,000, besting expectations. While ADP's private jobs growth was strong.
Home prices continue to elevate, up 11.8% year over year.
Finally, equity inflows continue to strengthen. As the rotation into bonds took years, this new rotation into stocks is just getting underway. All of which supports the idea that the trend remains upward.
The Bad
Another decline in the labor force participation rate underscores the idea that the jobs market remains weaker than usual at this stage in the business cycle.
The Ugly
Sectarian violence continues to play out across the Middle East and Africa, portending volatility and uncertainty as these stories continue to unfold. One never knows the unintended consequences.
Weekly Results
Major markets finished mixed last week. The DJIA fell 0.20%, the S&P 500 gained 0.60%, and the Nasdaq advanced 1.03%. Small cap stocks added 0.73%. And the 10-year Treasury bond yield fell 14 basis points to 2.86%. Gold rose $9.34 per ounce, or 0.76%.

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