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Market News (01/03/2013)
MADISON, Wis. (1/3/13)

  • U.S. construction spending fell an unexpected 0.3% in November--to $865.99 billion from October--as home building slowed and the government braced for possible cutbacks from the fiscal cliff, reported the Commerce Department Wednesday (The Wall Street Journal Jan. 2).  It was the first decline in spending since March, but the November figure was a 7.7% gain from the November 2011 total of $804 billion (Moody's Economy.com Jan. 2). October's spending report was revised downward to a 0.7% increase from an estimated 1.4% gain.  For November, private residential construction grew 0.4% to $295.3 billion, compared with 1.3% and 2.9% growth in October and September, respectively. Private nonresidential construction fell 0.7% to $294.46 billion for the period, indicating hesitancy by businesses to invest given the uncertainty in November surrounding the fiscal cliff. Public sector construction also declined 0.4%, with a 5.5% drop in federal spending …
  • Small business hiring rose modestly in December, with a 0.09% increase to 94.1 from November's upwardly revised 94 (from 93.8), according to The Intuit Small Business Employment Index. That means roughly 15,000 jobs were created in December (Moody's Economy.com Jan. 2). During 2012, small firms added 24,000 payrolls. November's revised figures show payrolls that month grew about 25,000, down from the original 30,000 estimate for that month. Average hours worked rose 0.1%, for an average of 107.4 hours in December, up from the revised 107.3 hours in November, which was revised downward from 110 hours.  This translates to about 24.8 hours per week, roughly the same as in November. Average compensation rose by $13 or 0.5%, the biggest monthly increase since December 2007. However, Moody's said this statistic was "suspicious" and likely would not survive a revision in the coming months …
  • Manufacturing in the U.S. expanded slightly more than expected, to 50.7, in December, from November's 49.5, while employment rose, according to the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) manufacturing-purchasing managers index (PMI) (The Wall Street Journal and Moody's Economy.com Jan. 2).  A reading of more than 50 indicates expansion.  Economists had expected the PMI to improve to 50.5, according to a Dow Jones Newswires survey of economists.  The employment index rose to 52.7 in December--the highest reading since September--from 48.4 in November. New orders for December remained the same as November--at 50.3. The exports index grew to 51.5 from November's 47, reflecting the first expansion in foreign demand since May.  The production index was 52.6 in December, down from November's 53.7 …


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