The labor market continued to be strong for the month of December as the non-farm payrolls came in at 144K. Jobless claims, which often lead the equity markets, were down 10K to 204,000 in the week ending January 11 and were expected to decline the following week as well. Lower unemployment claims mean that workers are finding new employment quickly after a layoff and were back in the workforce. Also, the continuing claims were down 37K in the week to 1.767 million which means that the overall labor market remains strong but the 4-week moving average still trended up. One surprise which we received the week of January 17th was the JOLT (Job Opening and Labor Turnover) data for the month of November. The jobs opening number declined to 6.8 million, a decline of 561,000 jobs, during November. Corporate earnings is one of the main drivers of job openings, so let’s hope that we get improvement in 2020 earnings to keep momentum in the labor market going.
Retail sales were steady as the advance “Core” retail sales — sales excluding motor vehicles, gasoline and building materials — were up 0.4% in December from November. The housing market continues to be strong as the starts of new homes rose to its highest levels (1.608 million units SAAR) since December 2006. Lower mortgage rates and the strong labor market continue to drive up the demand for new homes.
We will continue to monitor the financial market conditions and keep you abreast of further developments. If you still have further questions about your investments, please feel free to contact your Wealth Advisor at Marshall & Sterling Wealth Management.
Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.
International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.
The economic forecasts set forth in this material may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.