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Housing Market Continues Bounce

New Residential Construction in December 2010

The bottom line is that the housing market continues to bounce along the bottom (at least in terms of national totals). Today's data did have a quirky permits number, but that could have been the result of builders rushing to file permits before the end of the year to avoid some new regulations in the states of Pennsylvania, New York, and California. Therefore, next month expect permits to retrace most of today's gain.

U.S. Trade Deficit Little Changed in November

If you recall, last month the monthly trade data surprised on the upside: exports shot up and the trade deficit went down more than market expectations. Sometimes with monthly economic series, these sudden changes reverse themselves in the next month (giveth and taketh away). Not the case this time, folks: exports and imports edged up a bit and the deficit was nearly unchanged.

Retail Sales in December, Fourth Quarter, and 2010

The bottom line is that consumer spending picked up at the end of the year. Making this determination is mucho difficult, if not impossible, if we were to solely rely on the large volume of private sector data that was recently released covering holiday sales, Cyber Monday, Black Friday, Re-gift Thursday, … . Instead, there are several notable attributes of the Census Bureau's "Advance Monthly Sales and Food Services" release when trying to ascertain what is happening to consumer spending.

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