- U.S. employment remained buoyant, yet consumer sentiment has not translated to spending gains. Overseas, U.K. industrial production slowed, while the eurozone economy expanded.
- Initial jobless claims increased by 25,000 to 304,000 during the week of February 7. The four-week average declined for the third straight week, while continuing claims (reflecting delayed data) fell for the week of January 31.
- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey reported a slight increase in job openings in late December from a month earlier. There were more than five million hires, the most since 2007, mainly due to gains in construction.
- U.S. retail sales continued to decline in January. Excluding autos and gas, sales edged upward due to gains in building materials, electronics and food services.
- U.S. import and export prices both declined in January from the previous month, by the most since 2008 and 2011, respectively. Import prices also dropped in the one-year period, at the fastest pace since 2009.
- Consumer sentiment decreased in February, against projections, falling below January’s record high. While still solid, confidence in current conditions deteriorated, underscoring February’s slowing consumer activity, as did expectations for jobs and income.
- Business inventories ticked upward in December, though by less than expected, as sales declined for the third straight month. Excess inventory in the apparel, building material and auto industries pushed the balance against sales to its highest level since 2009.
- Small business optimism, while still strong, weakened in January from December’s nine-year high. The economic outlook deteriorated most, while sales expectations and earnings trends also declined. Job openings and inventories remained positive.
- U.K. industrial production missed projections for a flat month in December, edging further into negative territory. Declines in petroleum and gas extraction as well as utilities detracted most. Annualized production also decelerated, though by less than expected.
- Eurozone industrial production was unchanged in December, despite expectations for low continued growth. Durable consumer goods reported the greatest rise, while capital goods and energy also gained, and non-durables detracted.
- Fourth-quarter eurozone economic growth moved higher to 0.3%, modestly exceeding the third-quarter pace. Most member states reported gains, contributing to 0.9% annualized growth; although there remained a wide gap between the strongest and weakest members.
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