The U.S. Labor Department
has reported mixed employment numbers
for January. Specifically, the government intoned that the nation added 151,000 jobs last month
; that was some 35,000 fewer than the consensus forecast of 186,000 new positions for the latest month. Meanwhile gains for November were revised from 252,000 to 280,000. However, the non-farm payroll increase for December was pared back from 292,000 to 262,000.
From a number of perspectives, the Federal Reserve did the expected
as it concluded its two-day FOMC meeting
within the past hour. On point, the lead bank left borrowing costs unchanged
; expressed concerns
about the economic outlook
; but did not rule out
a March interest rate increase.
It will hold its next FOMC meeting that month.
As expected, demand for new homes perked up last month, with sales coming in at an annualized rate of 544,000 properties. That was above both the month-earlier pace of 491,000 homes sold, again on an annual basis, as well as the consensus expectation for property transactions of 505,000.
Earlier this morning, we were greeted with a report from the U.S. Labor Department
showing that the economy
had added 292,000 jobs
. That tally
was well above the consensus forecast
of 206,000 jobs. What's more, non-farm payrolls
were revised up
from an increase of 211,000 to one of 252,000. At the same time, the unemployment rate held steady
at a seven-and-a half-year low of 5.0%. Expectations had been for a nominal decline to 4.9%.
Following the release of benign data on revised third-quarter gross domestic product that showed growth of 2.0%, which was in line with the earlier estimate of 2.1% and the consensus forecast of 1.9%, the National Association of Realtors issued disappointing figures on sales of existing homes for November.
Just moments ago, the U.S. Federal Reserve
voted to raise short-term interest rates
, specifically the federal funds rate target
, for the first time
in nearly a decade.
Unlike so many past interest-rate adjustments--even going back decades--this one was not a surprise. In fact, it was one of the most widely telegraphed rate increases in recent memory, with at least 80% of forecasters predicting just such a rise in borrowing costs, at this time.
The Commerce Department
reported that industrial production dropped
a rather sharp 0.6% last month
, its third decline in as many months, and the largest of the three successive pullbacks. Expectations had been for a drop of just 0.1% last month. Also, and even more disarming, the government revised down October's industrial output from a decline of 0.2% to one twice that large.
Good news on the retail sales
front was released earlier this morning, as the gauge of consumer spending rose strongly in November
, allaying fears of a disquieting Christmas selling season. And the Labor Department noted that the Producer Price Index rose
by 0.3% in November. That was up nicely from the flattish reading that had been the forecast
The Labor Department
reported a bit earlier this morning that the nation
had added 211,000 jobs
. That was just slightly higher than the 200,000 new positions forecast for the latest reporting month. That figure, albeit down from October's upwardly revised increase of 298,000 (originally estimated at 271,000), was nevertheless a decent total and one that should be consistent with a moderately expanding economy.
Fresh off the heels of a disquieting report issued Monday, in which the Institute for Supply Management
reported its first contraction in manufacturing activity in three years during November, that trade group issued its monthly survey on the non-manufacturing sector
, and noted that while this category showed further growth, the pace of that improvement slowed last month from October.