America’s trade deficit with the rest of the world narrowed to $49.3 billion in November. That is down from $55.7 billion the previous month and much better than the $54 billion gap the markets had been expecting. It is the lowest deficit in five months and was largely brought about by a drop in imports. CNBC championed the news as a victory for Trump and, while he will no doubt be pleased, it would have been better if the figures were the result of a jump in exports.
We also learned that mortgage applications in the US decreased by 2.5% up to 1 February 2019 following a 3% fall the previous week, but otherwise it was a relatively quiet day for American economic data. It was livelier on the political landscape, with Democrats saying that Trump’s State of the Union address ‘was not a good speech’. Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, said that Trump ‘was like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’.
The House Intelligence Committee voted to release all witness transcripts to the Department of Justice and to special counsel Robert Mueller. This was something that had been declined by Republicans when they controlled the House, but now the Democrats have wrestled control back, Trump’s administration could be in for a bit of a wild ride in the coming months.
Today Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will deliver a speech and we will see initial jobless claims up to 2 February 2019. They are expected to dramatically improve to 221,000 from 253,000 the previous week.
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