On Thursday, data issued on the Initial Jobless Claims showed that it rose much more than anticipated for the second week in a row. They came in at 885,000 for the week ended December 12, up 23,000 from the updated reading of the previous week. Since the consensus was placed at 818,000, they are higher than anticipated.

In the meantime the Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index decreased to 11.1 in December from 26.3 in November and from a consensus of 20, suggesting a slowdown in production in the region.

Housing data on the other hand, remains powerful. Housing Starts in November stood at 1.547 million compared to 1.53 million in October and 1.528 million in October. Construction permits amounted to 1.639 million compared to 1.55 million in the consensus period and 1.544 million in October.

Retail Sales were shocked on Wednesday by plunging 1.1 percent in November from the previous month, while consensus predicted a 0.3 percent decrease, after a 0.1 percent drop in October.

In December, overall economic activity in the United States also slowed sharply, especially in the area of services, although it continues to expand. The Markit Composite PMI Flash index, published on Wednesday, rose from 58.6 in November to 55.7 in December. From 56.7 in November, the manufacturing index dropped to 56.5, while the service indicator fell more sharply to 55.3 from 58.4 in November.

As always, investors on the health front tend to disregard the spread of the virus and concentrate on the more desirable subject of vaccinations. An FDA advisory panel was scheduled to meet Thursday to discuss Moderna’s candidate vaccine, which is expected to be approved shortly for emergency use. The FDA expressed optimism about the vaccine supply from Pfizer/BioNTech on Wednesday.

The number of reported cases of the latest coronavirus since the pandemic began now exceeds 74 million worldwide, including 17 million in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University on Thursday. Since its advent, the virus has claimed 1.65 million lives worldwide, including more than 307,500 in the United State.

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