It’s Friday and that means it’s time to review the latest economic data and identify which pockets of the economy are heating up and which are slowing down. Don’t worry about catching every headline and every report throughout the week—I recap all of the most important news impacting your wealth right here every Friday. Let’s take a look at this week’s big headlines, starting with today’s market-moving report:
Labor Market Shows Continued Strength
The Labor Department reported this morning that nonfarm payrolls climbed by 321,000 in November. This significantly beat analysts’ estimates for a 230,000 increase. Payrolls for September and October were also revised higher by 44,000 more jobs. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.8%. This was a fantastic report, and the biggest increase in payrolls in nearly three years. Plus, the unemployment rate is sitting at a six-year low. Added all together, the U.S. labor market is starting to show more signs of strength.
Construction Spending Reaches Five Month High
During October, construction spending increased more than expected, rising 1.1% to an annual rate of $970.99 billion. Economists were expecting a 0.6% increase in October. September’s construction spending was revised up to show a 0.1% drop, compared to the previously reported 0.4% dip. Private construction spending increased 0.6%, while public construction spending rose 2.3%. This was the largest increase in construction spending since May, and the upbeat data should support the U.S. economy in the current quarter.
Layoff Activity Remains Tame
For the week ending November 29, initial claims for unemployment dropped by 17,000 to a seasonally adjusted 297,000. Economists were looking for claims to fall to 295,000. The four-week moving average rose to 299,000. With claims still below the 300,000 mark, it shows that labor market is still improving.
Orders For Factory Goods Slip
The Commerce Department reported this morning that new orders for factory goods slipped 0.7% to $496.6 billion in October. Economists were looking for a 0.1% increase. September was revised to a 0.5% drop, which was a slight improvement over the previously announced 0.6% decrease. This is the third-straight month that factory good orders declined, after posting a record high in July.
U.S. Trade Gap Narrows in October
The U.S. Trade deficit dipped by 0.4% to $43.4 billion in October. Exports increased 1.2% to $197.5 billion, while imports rose 0.9% to $241 billion. Of course, given the drop in crude oil prices as of late, imports of petroleum fell 0.6% in October. The narrowing deficit is a positive for economic growth, as it reflects stronger U.S. export sales that are boosting U.S. manufacturers and, in turn, the U.S. economy.
That’s all I have for you this week. I’ll be in touch with the latest Portfolio Grader changes and Stock of the Day on Monday.
Have a great weekend,