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Crude Oil: 59.22 (-9.52%)
December’s trade deficit widened by $2.7 billion to $53.1 billion, with a $6.2 billion increase in imports outpacing a $2.7 billion increase in exports. The trade deficit for December was the widest since October 2008, and over the full year, 2017’s the deficit grew by 12% to $566 billion, making it the largest yearly deficit since 2008. Goods exports increased significantly for industrial supplies (+$1.5 billion) and capital goods (+1.2 billion), while imports increased chiefly for pharmaceutical preparations (+$1.8 billion), cell phones and other household goods (+$1.7 billion), and automotives (+$1.1 billion). The trade deficit increased for the top three countries with the widest deficits: +$0.6 billion with China (to $34 billion), +$3.8 billion with the European Union (to $17.2 billion), and +$0.2 billion with Mexico (to $6 billion).
December’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) was substantially unchanged from November’s report, showing 5.8 million job openings, 5.5 million hires, and 5.2 million separations at the end of the month. The job openings rate was 5.8%, with increases for jobs in information (+33,000) and the federal government (+13,000), and decreases for professional and business services (-119,000), retail trade (-85,000), and construction (-52,000). The total separations rate was 3.6%, with the rate for workers voluntarily leaving a job (the “quit” rate) at 2.2%, and the layoff and discharges rate at 1.1%. Over the 12 months ending in December, there were 64.7 million hires and 62.6 million separations, resulting in a net gain of 2.2 million jobs for 2017.
The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Weekly Petroleum Status Report showed that both crude oil and commercial petroleum products are at the middle of their average range of supplies for the year, while crude oil imports decreased -538,000 barrels/day, lowering the 4-week average of imports to 8.1 million barrels/day, down -4.5% compared to the same period last year. Products supplied were up +4.8% compared to last year, with a +6.5% increase in gasoline, a +8.9% increase in distillate fuel, and a -0.6% drop for jet fuel. The benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil price was $65.50, down -$0.77 for the week, but up +$11.69 for the year, while gasoline prices increased to $2.637/gallon, up +$0.03 for the week and +0.344 for the year. The EIA’s Monthly Short Term Energy Outlook projected that WTI prices would average $4/barrel lower than Brent prices, and that WTI prices for May would range from $55/barrel to $77/barrel, while U.S. crude production would increase to a record 10.6 million barrels/day in 2018 compared to 2017’s average of 9.3 million barrels/day.
Wednesday February 14 – Consumer Price Index
Thursday February 15 – Producer Price Index – Final Demand (PPI-FD)
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