China's foreign currency reserves rose for a second straight month, which on the surface suggests concerns about capital flight and a slowing economy may be overdone; however, a report from Bloomberg noted that much of the gains were due to positive currency valuation effects. When removed, reserves would actually have fallen by a notable amount, indicating that capital outflows remained substantial, though well below those seen in 2015. (LPL)
U.S. non-manufacturing misses, but still strong. ISM's non-manufacturing index registered a five-month low of 57.6 for December. Much of the decline in the overall reading can be attributed to a drop in inventories and employment. However, an uptick in new orders, to 62.7, shows that future activity in the sector should remain robust.
Small business optimism elevated but qualified workers scarce. The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index was slightly lower in December but remains near cycle highs at 104.4. The decline from November's reading was driven by falling expectations for both real sales growth and deteriorating business conditions over the next six months. At the same time, reports of higher worker compensation remained near record levels as employers struggle to find qualified workers to help boost inventories.
With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management, a Registered Investment Advisor, I am Troy Reinhart.