The U.S. Energy Department reports continuing increases in diesel and home heading oil inventories and continued falling prices. Together with the reluctance of the major non-OPEC oil exporters - Russia, Mexico and Norway - to reduce sales, prices are likely to be weak for several more months with further declines possible from already low prices.
The U.S. Labor Department reported a drop of 15,000 new claims for unemployment insurance last week to 427,000. Claims had peaked at nearly 600,000 after Sept. 11. More important, there was a 65,000 decline in the number of people receiving unemployment insurance benefits last week. This means that 65,000 more people found jobs than lost jobs. The labor market will worsen until well into next year but perhaps not as much as first feared.
The Conference Board reported that the Index of Leading Indicators rose 0.3% in October after a huge 0.5% plunge in September. It has now risen in 5 of the last 7 months. This erratic but always useful indicator is now neutral, singling neither an upturn nor a worsening recession.