"Economists are pessimists: they've predicted 8 of the last 3 depressions."
--Barry Asmus

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Metrics: Domestic and Foreign

Highlights from around the world (well, from Europe anyway) and around the corner.
In Europe, Germany reported it's December 2010 unemployment rate, which remains unchanged at 7.5% Great Britain's PMI Manufacturing Index beat expectations by rising 30 bps from November to finish at 58.3 (the consensus expectation had been only 57.0). Italy's CPI rose to finish at a 0.4% increase for December (making a 1.9% increase in consumer prices for 2010). Finally, the European Union has reported its annual inflation rate, which was expected to come in at 2.1% for 2010 (up 20 bps from 2009). The actual figure is 2.2% which, while worse than expected, is not terrible.
All told, the news ranged from good (German unemployment and Great Britain's Manufacturing Index) to tolerable (EU inflation) to "bad but who cares" (Italy's CPI[1]). It's not particularly surprising that the FTSE 100 is up 2.21%, the DAX is up 0.22%, and the CAC 40 is up 0.65% on the news[2].
Winging our way over the North Pole (because, really, we usually take the Atlantic route and I'm bored with it), we have a few measures coming up in the US. Factory Orders are due out at 10 AM EST - a moderate market mover because it gives a second look at the productivity of the US manufacturing sector.. For November expectations are, in a word, bleak. October saw a 0.9% decrease in factory orders, and November is expected to be absolutely flat (a 0.0% increase). At some point today we're also expecting the Domestic Vehicle Sales (tracking sales of domestic-made cars[3], which is expected to rise 100,000 to net sales of 9.2 million for December.
Finally, the FOMC minutes are due out at 2:00 PM EST. Look for such surprises as the Fed being concerned about inflation but still expressing a willingness to keep monetary policy loose to stimulate GDP, an overall consensus to leave the target rate for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent, and for Thomas Hoenig to vote against the policy because he's concerned about the loose money policy promoting high future inflation.
[1] They're one of the PIIGS, and has had its fair share of troubling the market anyway. It's going to take more than a 40 bps CPI increase to make European traders flinch these days.
[2] As of 8:21 AM EST. Actual numbers are subject to change without warning.
[3] No idea yet if this includes say, Toyota, which has a large factory complex in Kentucky. Or if it includes say, GM or Ford, whose vehicles are only an average of 70% domestic parts. Do we prorate?

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