- The U.S. economy added 49,000 jobs in January
- The ISM Manufacturing index registered 58.7 in January
- U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures closed last week at $56.85 per barrel
Top Three Market Headlines
Labor Market Slowdown Extends into 2021: The Labor Department reported last week that U.S. nonfarm payrolls rose by only 49,000 in January, and also raised its estimate of job losses in December to 227,000 from the 140,000 figure previously reported. From November through January, the U.S. added only 86,000 jobs, a sharp deceleration from the post-shutdown pace experienced from May through October of last year. While jobs grew in business and professional services in January, many other sectors saw losses, including leisure and hospitality, retailers, health-care companies, and warehouses.
ISM Indices Reflect Continued Expansion: The U.S economy continued to expand in January, according to surveys of business executives released last week from the Institute of Supple Management (ISM). The ISM Manufacturing index registered 58.7 in January, only slightly lower than 60.5 in the prior month. (A reading above 50 indicates expansion of activity while a sub-50 mark reflects contraction.) The services sector also expanded in January as the ISM Services index came in at 58.7, the highest reading since February 2019. This was the eighth consecutive month both indices reflected expansion.
Oil and Natural Prices on the Upswing: Energy commodities have recorded solid price gains to start 2021. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures closed last week at $56.85 per barrel, their highest level in over a year and up 17% from their $48.52 December close. Gains last week came after OPEC+ agreed to maintain a reduced output policy, while reduced U.S. crude oil stockpiles also supported prices. Meanwhile, natural gas futures prices closed last week at $2.86 per million British thermal units, up 15% year-to-date. Much of this increase came last week amid updated forecasts for colder weather in the U.S.