by Sy Harding, Financial Sense:
The Fed surprised markets with its December decision that the economy is strong enough to stand on its own with less stimulus. The majority of economists and analysts expected it to wait until March for more evidence to accumulate.
In the month since the decision, economic reports from key areas of the economy; jobs, housing, auto sales, and consumer confidence, have not been impressive.
There was that horrific shock of only 74,000 jobs created in December. New home starts plunged 9.8% in December. Permits for future starts fell 3.0%. Although up for the full year, existing home sales in the 4th quarter were down 27.9% from the same quarter of 2012. Mortgage applications continued their sharp decline, ending December at the lowest level in 13 years.
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