Stocks dropped sharply during January. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 5%, ending its worst January since 2009. The S&P 500 dropped more than 3%, while the NASDAQ suffered a 2% loss.
Today, markets are closed to observe Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We encourage everyone to participate in this national day of service.
The jobs report was the most noteworthy release of the week. The economy added only 74,000 jobs in December, well below the 193,000 that economists had forecasted.
Stocks started off 2014 with mixed results at best. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose slightly Friday, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq both added to Thursday’s 1% declines. Some of the decline can be attributed to a major snowstorm in the Northeast that kept traders away and the end of the holiday-shortened week.
Initial jobless claims fell to 338,000 in the week ending December 21, from a revised 380,000 in the previous week. The Labor Department is stating that difficulty in adjusting data during the holiday season is the likely reason for volatility in claims for the last two months of the year.
The National Association of Home Builders index of U.S. home builder sentiment rose to 58 in December, a stronger reading than the consensus expected.
There was a 68,000 jump in initial jobless claims to 368,000, according to data for the December 7 week. Claims are back to their highest point since the government shutdown in early October.
Consumer sentiment is building quickly this holiday season, at 82.5 for the early December reading compared to 75.1 for final November and 72.0 at mid-month November. The latest reading is the best since July.
Black Friday 2013 marked the first Black Friday since 2009 that spending declined, increasing the chance that retailers will extend discounted items. Purchases at stores and websites fell 2.9%.
Initial jobless claims fell a sharp 21,000 to 323,000 for the lowest level since the government shutdown lifted claims in the first half of October.