European Central Bank Announces Quantitative Easing:
As expected, the European Central Bank (ECB) announced on Wednesday its pledge to purchase government bonds in an asset purchase program worth approximately €1.1 Trillion ($1.3 Trillion), more than €500 Billion more than originally expected. The plan is to purchase €60 Billion a month until at least the end of September 2016, though they left the option open to continue beyond that point. This is all being done in an effort to increase the amount of euros in circulation with the goal of staving off deflation. Continue reading
The U.S. Department of Labor released the monthly job data for December this morning, showing a net gain of 252,000 non-farm payroll jobs to close out 2014. This was ahead of the average economist estimate of 240,000. All told, 2014 was the strongest year of job growth since 1999. The unemployment rate fell to 5.6% for December, down from 5.8% in November. The unemployment rate is now at its lowest level since June of 2008, just before the recession. While the numbers look good in isolation, the Labor Department noted that the unemployment drop was due, in part, to people that stopped looking for jobs, therefore not counting against the unemployment rate. Wage data showed that hourly earnings were up 1.7% for 2014, barely ahead of the 1.3% inflation rate we experienced. Below is the growth in non-farm payrolls over the last two years. We anticipate the positive momentum will continue into 2015.
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