After three weeks of declines, stocks rose this week buoyed Thursday by the European Central Bank’s announcement of quantitative easing. In addition to Europe’s moves, China injected $8BN into its banking system to try to spur lending. Bonds were mostly unchanged and the US dollar rose sharply against other currencies.
- The Commerce Department reported that housing starts rose 4.4% in December from the previous month. Single family home starts rose 4.5%. For the calendar year 2014 housing starts rose 8.8% with wide variations from month to month.
- The National Association of Realtors reported that existing home sales rose 2.4% in December from the prior month and 3.5% from a year ago.
- The Labor Department reported that first time claims for jobless benefits were a seasonally adjusted 307,000 in the week ending January 17th. The week before was revised from 316,000 to 317,000. This marks three weeks in a row that claims were above 300,000. The four week moving average also rose to 306,500. This may indicate a slowdown of jobs growth which has been the engine of economic growth.
- HSBC reported that the Chinese manufacturing index for January was 49.8 following a revised 49.6 in December. This still represents contraction albeit at a slower pace.