We've got two major sets of data points out now, so let's see if there will be more joy in the US than in Japan this morning.
First off, Durable Goods Orders. We're about to look at the December 2010 figures, and analysts are looking for substantial improvement. November saw a revised decline of 0.1% in orders, or a revised increase of 4.5% in ex-transportation orders. For December, the analysts are burning incense to Plutos Catachthonios and hoping for a 1.5% increase in new orders. And does the US Census Bureau disappoint us? Yes. Yes it does. Durable goods orders declined 2.5% for the month (ex-transportation, they were up a tepid 0.5%). The transportation sector was the biggest loser (new orders down 12.8%), with nondefense aircraft the biggest loser in the sector (down 99.5%).
So, what about First Time Jobless Claims? Will that make the markets happy? We did really well last week - even after revising the figures, we had a better than expected seasonally adjusted 403,000 new claims. Unfortunately, there is no joy to be found in the news from the US Department of Labor, either. Seasonally adjusted, the week ending January 22 saw 454,000 initial jobless claims. The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment level is 3,991,000 (up 94,000) as of the week ending January 15, with the insured unemployment rate at 3.2%.
In domestic news, does anyone remember me talking about the Iraqi Dinar? Good. There is related news, with the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission using provisions in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law and the 2008 Farm Bill to file suit against 14 foreign exchange dealers. The suits allege that the firms named illegally solicited members of the public to engage in foreign currency transactions, and that they operated without being registered with the CFTC. The CFTC is looking for civil monetary policies, as well as trading and registration bans. DinarTrade is not one of the companies named.
 Not a typo.
 Interestingly enough, the unadjusted numbers came in at 482,399 for the week ending January 22. That's down from the week ending January 15, and also down from the 502,710 initial claims for the comparable week in 2010. Go figure.
 I haven't really discussed this figure before. The insured unemployment level is the number of persons who are currently receiving state unemployment insurance payments. It is not used in any way as a measure of actual unemployment, because not everyone who is unemployed receives unemployment insurance benefits.
 No, I'm not sure what farming has to do with it either.