Last week, Congress kicked off the new year with a deal to avert the “fiscal cliff.” The economy appeared unfazed by Washington negotiations, continuing its steady recovery.

Employers added 155,000 jobs in December and the national unemployment rate remained unchanged from the previous month, at 7.8 percent.

Automobile manufacturers and retailers reported stronger than usual sales. Most major carmakers saw annual sales touch their highest point since the recession.

This week, a new set of data points should offer further hints on the health of the economy.


The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) releases its small-business optimism index for December at 7:30 a.m. The figure indicates the health of small businesses and their economic outlook. November’s number declined due to Hurricane Sandy and the uncertainty about the outcome of the elections. Forecasters expect December’s number to be 87.2, a notch down from the previous month.

The November consumer credit report — which paints a picture of consumers’ spending habits — comes out at 3 p.m. Spending is expected to fall to $12.75 billion, down from October’s figure of $14.2 billion.


Weekly jobless claims are due out at 8:30 a.m. Last week’s numbers were higher than expected with 372,000 initial claims. Forecasters expect a slight drop to 365,000 jobless claims this week.

November figures for wholesale trade — which measure wholesalers’ inventories — are due out at 10 a.m. Those figures are expected to drop slightly from October’s $497.1 billion, which was up 0.6 percent from September.

The European Central Bank announces its monthly monetary policy decision about interest rates. No major change is expected.


The week wraps up with international trade deficit figures for November, which are due out at 8:30 a.m. Those data signal the status of U.S. foreign trade.

A trade deficit of $40.2 billion is expected, narrowing October’s deficit of $42.2 billion.

— Amrita Jayakumar

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