Strong gain for consumer confidence
U.S. consumer confidence showed a strong gain in January, bolstered by continued strength in the job market. The Conference Board said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index rose to a reading of 131.6 this month, up from 128.2 in December. Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said that the increase, which followed a more moderate advance in December, reflected a more positive assessment of the current job market and increased optimism about future job prospects. The Conference Board's present situation index and its expectation index both showed gains in January.
Big-ticket orders rise, led by military craft
Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket manufactured goods rose in December as a large jump in demand for military aircraft offset a sharp decline in commercial aircraft that reflected Boeing's continued problems with its 737 Max. A key category that tracks business investment fell by the largest amount in eight months. The Commerce Department said Tuesday orders for durable goods rose 2.4% in December, the strongest showing since August. However, excluding defense, new orders would have fallen 2.5%. The category that tracks business-investment plans dropped 0.9%, the biggest decline since a 1.1% setback in April. Business investment has been hurt over the past year by uncertainties generated by President Donald Trump's trade war with China. Now that agreement has been reached on a Phase One deal, there is hope that a more stable outlook on trade will convince businesses to start investing again to expand and modernize their operations.