Bad news for U.S. workers this week: Initial claims for unemployment were up 13,000 over the previous week to 378,000. This was the second consecutive weekly increase after a month of encouraging weekly declines.
More bad news for U.S. workers: The Republican congressional leadership has refused to extend unemployment benefits for 2 million workers who have been jobless for six months or longer. So they’re off the rolls as of yearend. Merry Christmas, folks! Happy New Year!
Bad news for the Bush administration: Consumer sentiment slumped to 89.6, down from 93.7 in November and far short of the expected level of 96.
Finally, more bad news for both U.S. workers and the Bushies: The Federal Reserve expects tortoise-like job growth as far out as the eye can see.
Note: The Dow Jones Industrial Average pushed through 10,000 this week for the first time in a year and a half and closed today at 10,042. So, does Mr. Market know something about the future that the rest of us don't? Maybe. But this is a seasonally favorable period for stocks (a.ka. "Santa Claus rally" time). And we can expect the big institutions to do whatever they can to keep the Dow above the psychologically significant 10,000 level through yearend.