Economic Update 01/19/16

LIGHT SWEET CRUDE SETTLES AT $29.42

Oil closed at its lowest level in more than 12 years Friday, plummeting 11.3% for the trading week on the NYMEX. Two factors contributed greatly to the rout: the Energy Information Administration’s forecast of the global crude glut lasting well into 2017 and the imminent expiration of sanctions against Iran, which could mean greater crude exports from that country. The EIA forecast West Texas Intermediate crude prices to rise to the vicinity of $40 later this year.

CONSUMER OPTIMISM REMAINS

Rising to 93.3 from its final 2015 mark of 92.6, the University of Michigan’s initial January consumer sentiment index amounted to a pleasant surprise during a gloomy week. Another consumer indicator was less positive: the Commerce Department said that both headline and core retail sales dipped 0.1% in December.

PRODUCER PRICE INDEX SLIPS 0.2%

This statistic is only part of the story regarding wholesale inflation in December. Minus the volatile food and energy categories, producer prices rose 0.1% last month according to the Labor Department.

WORRIES ABOUT OIL, CHINA IMPEDE STOCKS

Another dip for Chinese equities and slumping oil prices led shares lower last week.  During January 11-15, the Dow lost 2.19%, the Nasdaq 3.34%, and the S&P 500 2.17%. At the close, the Dow stood at 15,988.15, the Nasdaq at 4,488.42, the S&P at 1,880.28. Even COMEX gold futures lost 0.7% for the week, settling Friday at $1,090.70.

THIS WEEK: U.S. financial markets are closed Monday in observation of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Bank of America, Charles Schwab, Comerica, Delta Air Lines, eBay, IBM, Morgan Stanley, Nautilus, Netflix, and UnitedHealth Group announce earnings Tuesday, and China presents its Q4 and 2015 GDP readings. On Wednesday, investors consider the December CPI, December housing starts and building permits, and earnings from Briggs & Stratton, Brinker International, Goldman Sachs, Kinder Morgan, Northern Trust, and Raymond James. Thursday, earnings from Alaska Air Group, American Express, BoNY Mellon, BB&T, E*TRADE, Fifth Third, J.B. Hunt, Schlumberger, Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, Travelers, Union Pacific, and Verizon arrive along with the latest initial claims figures. Friday, NAR’s December existing home sales numbers and the latest Conference Board leading indicator index complement earnings from GE and SunTrust Banks.

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