Unexpectedly Strong Manufacturing and Labor Numbers Surprise Investors (Financial Times) "Hopes of an acceleration in the US economic recovery in 2011 received a boost as fresh data on the health of the manufacturing sector and the labour market were strikingly better than forecasters had predicted. The Chicago purchasing manager’s index, — a measure of manufacturing activity in the Midwest — soared from 62.5 to 68.6, the highest level since the late 1980s and way above economists’ expectations. Meanwhile, the outlook for the jobs market brightened as the number of Americans filing to receive jobless claims unexpectedly dropped below the 400,000 mark for the first time in more than two years." And yet all major U.S. indices close down for the day. Interesting.
"Who's Afraid of Rising Rates? Pros Get Ready For Move"(CNBC) CNBC's Jeff Cox talks interest rates and market impact: "Though historically low interest rates have been at the core of much of the rally across asset classes in 2010, that doesn't mean anticipated higher rates in 2011 will stop investors from making money. Strategists remain bullish on the stock market, with forecasts of 10 to 20 percent gains abounding. But market pros remain mostly sanguine about bonds as well, even though rising rates and accompanying inflation usually eat away at the value of fixed-income instruments."
Rich New Yorkers: 'Why Buy When You Can Rent'? (Bloomberg) It must be a great problem/opportunity to have: "Adam Neumann and his wife set out in 2008 to buy an apartment in lower Manhattan, hoping to get a bargain on a 2,500-square-foot (232-square-meter) luxury unit. Failing to find a deal, they chose an increasingly practical option for the city’s wealthiest residents: renting. They’re paying $300,000 upfront on a five-year lease for an empty TriBeCa loft with almost twice the space that the landlord will outfit to their design."
The Urban Blizzard Dichotomy: Beautiful-Ugly Snow (Wall Street Journal) "There’s an unfortunate two-faced reality to urban snowfall of any magnitude: the beauty of the initial snow-covered moments inevitably gives way to ugly, brackish puddles and weather-related headaches for city residents. The slushy hangover always lasts longer than the snowy enchantment." (Cool pictures and video linked to the article: Check it out.)
Gold Bugs Take Cover: The Recovery is Bad for Precious Metals (Wall Street Journal via Dow Jones) "Reports showing a stronger U.S. economy pressured precious metals prices lower Thursday, though silver and palladium prices set multiyear highs earlier in the session. The most actively traded gold futures, for February delivery, settled down $7.60, or 0.5%, at $1,405.90 per troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The thinly traded January-delivery contract settled at $1,405.60 per troy ounce, down $7.50, or 0.5%, on the day. Despite settling in negative territory, gold prices remain above the psychologically important $1,400 mark as investors prepare for the final trading day of the year Friday.