Weekly Economic Update: January 29, 2024

The Markets (as of market close January 26, 2024)

Stocks closed higher last week, with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq reaching record highs. Traders spent most of the week parsing through corporate earnings results and important economic data. Among the market sectors, communication services and energy rose over 5.0%, while health care ended the week in the red. Ten-year Treasury yields ticked up marginally. Crude oil prices rose nearly 6.0% as production cuts have begun to drive prices higher. The dollar advanced, while gold prices fell 0.6%.


Last Week’s Economic News

  • The initial estimate of gross domestic product for the fourth quarter of 2023, revealed that the economy accelerated at an annualized rate of 3.3%, down from the third quarter rate of 4.9%, but well above expectations that hovered around 2.0%. Compared to the third quarter of 2023, the deceleration in GDP in the fourth quarter primarily reflected slowdowns in private inventory investment, federal government spending, residential fixed investment, and consumer spending. Personal consumption expenditures, a measure of consumer spending, rose 2.8% in the fourth quarter and was the largest contributor to GDP. Spending on durable goods rose 4.6%, while nondurable goods spending advanced 3.4%. Services gained 2.4%. Despite rising interest rates, gross domestic investment rose 2.1% in the fourth quarter, well below the third-quarter rate of 10.0%. Nevertheless, both residential and nonresidential fixed investment increased 1.1% and 1.9%, respectively. Exports increased 6.3%, while imports, which are a negative in the calculation of GDP, increased 1.9%. The personal consumption expenditures price index increased 1.7%, compared with an increase of 2.6% in the third quarter. Excluding food and energy prices, the PCE price index increased 2.0%, the same change as the third quarter.
  • According to the latest report on personal income and outlays, consumer prices edged up 0.2% in December, while core prices, excluding food and energy, also increased 0.2%. For the 12 months ended in December, consumer prices rose 2.6%, unchanged from the previous 12-month period. Core prices rose 2.9%, the lowest 12-month advance since the period ended March 2021. Both personal income and disposable (after-tax) personal income rose 0.3% in December. Consumer spending, as measured by the personal consumption expenditures index, outpaced income growth after climbing 0.7% last month.
  • The advance report on international trade in goods showed the deficit was $88.5 billion in December.
  • The advance report on durable goods orders for December showed new orders inched up $0.1 billion for a net 0.0% change after advancing 5.5% in November.
  • December saw sales of new single-family homes increase 8.0% from November and 4.4% from December 2022.
  • The national average retail price for regular gasoline was $3.062 per gallon on January 22, higher than the prior week’s price.
  • For the week ended January 20, there were 214,000 new claims for unemployment insurance, an increase of 25,000 from the previous week’s level.


Eye on the Week Ahead

The Federal Open Market Committee meets this week. The consensus is that interest rates will remain unchanged, however, it will be interesting to glean the direction of the Committee moving forward. The employment figures for January are also out this week. Employment grew by 216,000 in December, well above expectations.

Have a nice week!





Robert G. Carpenter

President & CEO
Baltimore-Washington Financial Advisors