Economic reports this week from the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Labor, payroll processor ADP and the Business Roundtable were all generally positive for the economy. U.S. Gross Domestic Product grew rapidly in Q3 at an annualized rate of 3.6%, the highest reading since 1Q2012 and the first time the economy has posted three consecutive quarters of GDP growth since 2004-5. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that jobless claims dropped 23,000 to 298,000 surprising economists who had predicted an increase to 325,000. Payroll processor ADP, considered a leading indicator of U.S. Labor Department job figures due Friday, reported that companies added 218,000 private sector jobs in November, again beating economists’ expectations of an increase of 185,000. Finally, the Business Roundtable’s CEO Economic Outlook Index, which measures CEO optimism in the form of increased hiring and spending plans for the next six months, rose to 84.5 its highest reading since 2Q2012. (see the Bureau of Economic Analysis release on GDP here http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/national/gdp/2013/pdf/gdp3q13_2nd.pdf )
Of course the outlook is not all positive: Initial holiday spending is down from 2012; business inventories are up accounting for a whopping 1.68 percentage points of 3Q GDP; and another government shutdown looms in mid-January if Congress cannot reach a comprise. Congressional negotiations could provide an early indication by next Friday.