U.S. Labor Sentiment Increases. Sentiment improved in January to 96.9, up from 96.5 in December, according to the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index.
The Conference Board’s confidence index measures consumers’ assessment of current conditions and their expectations for the next six months. More than half of survey respondents reported that they are better off financially this month compared to last. However, the share of respondents who said they expect their finances to worsen has increased to 17.2 percent, from 15.7 percent.
U.S. Employment in the Works. Nonfarm payrolls gained 313,000 workers in January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. January’s rise was slightly lower than the forecast of 321,000 jobs. However, the jobless rate held steady at 3.7 percent for the fourth consecutive month.
U.S. GDP Growth Slows. Gross domestic product increased at a 2.9 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2018, which was less than the 4.2 percent growth from the third quarter of 2018, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported. The fourth quarter’s expansion of GDP was also 0.1 percentage point lower than the fourth quarter of 2017.