In the News
Factory orders rose $8.6 billion or 1.8% in December to a seasonally adjusted $484.8 billion. This follows a 0.3% decrease in November. Excluding the volatile transportation sector, orders increased 0.2% in December.
Retail sales rose 2.4% for the week ending February 2, according to the ICSC-Goldman Sachs index. On a year-over-year basis, retailers saw sales increase 2.6%.
Non-manufacturing activity fell to 55.2 in January from a revised 55.7 in December. A reading above 50 signals expansion. It was the 37th straight month of expansion in the services sector.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending February 1 rose 3.4%. Purchase volume rose 2%. Refinancing applications increased 4%.
The trade deficit decreased to $38.5 billion in December from $48.6 billion in November. Exports rose $3.9 billion or 2.1% to $186.4 billion. Imports decreased $6.2 billion or 2.7% to $224.9 billion.
Wholesalers decreased their inventories 0.1% to $497.7 billion in December. Sales at the wholesale level were unchanged at $418.9 billion in December. On a year-over-year basis, sales were 3.7% higher than December 2011.
The Labor Department reported that in the fourth quarter of 2012, productivity fell at an annual rate of 2% and labor costs increased at an annual rate of 4.5%.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending February 2 fell by 5,000 to 366,000. Continuing claims for the week ending January 26 rose by 8,000 to 3.224 million. The less volatile four-week average of claims for unemployment benefits was 350,500.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on retail sales on February 13 and industrial production on February 15.