U.S. Households Wealth Rises|
According to the Federal Reserve on Thursday as part of their quarterly Flow
of Funds report, the net wealth of U.S. households rose during Q3 to its highest
level seen since late 2007 which provides a positive sign for future consumer
spending as consumers feel more comfortable spending their money. Net financial
wealth grew $1.72 trillion to $64.77 trillion resulting in a household wealth
shortfall of $1.2 trillion where it held during Q4 2007. At that time, the
economy was sinking into a severe recession - the countries deepest recession
since the Great Depression - and during Q3 of 2007, wealth had peaked at $67.3
trillion. During Q3, rising home prices helped drive the increase in personal
net worth. The Fed reported that the value of real estate owned by households
rose nearly $300 billion and stock holdings climbed by nearly $520 billion, in
Q3. During Q3, households cut debt at annual rate of 2% for the steepest drop
since Q2 2011 at which time household debt fell $65.5 billion to $12.87
trillion. The minimal gain seen indicates households could still be feeling that
they need to cut more debt. Total household liabilities were 112.7% of after-tax
income during Q3 for the lowest seen since 2003 and down from 113.4% in Q2. One
measure kept by the Fed has shown that monthly debt payments as a share of
income in Q2 were at the lowest seen since 1993, even though total debt as a
share of income remains historically high.
The U.S. Labor Department announced on Thursday that applications for U.S.
unemployment benefits fell by 25,000 to a seasonally adjusted 370,000 in the
week ended December 1 for the third straight decline and lowest reading in one
month. Revision to initial jobless claims from two weeks ago - up to 395,000
from an original reading of 393,000 which was based on more complete data
collected at the state level. During November, the average of new jobless claims
edged up by 2,250 to 408,000. In the week ended November 24, Labor reported that
continuing jobless claims decreased by 100,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.21
Policy makers from the European Central Bank and President Mario Draghi on
Thursday indicated that while they considered a rate cut, the Governing Council
had a "wide" discussion on interest rates but that the "prevailing consensus"
was to leave them unchanged. Draghi also said policy makers discussed the
possible "complexities" of implementing a negative deposit rate with no further
elaboration from the panel. ECB key lending rate remains unchanged at 0.75% with
deposit rate it pays on deposits left with the institution remains at 0%.
January crude oil fell $1.62 or 1.8%, to settle at $86.26 a barrel on the New
York Mercantile Exchange, for the third straight losing session, on the back of
rising petroleum supplies and a weak economic outlook on the euro zone. Over the
past two trading sessions, oil has fallen a total of 1.4%.
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