Markets staged a modest rally. For the week, the S&P closed up, but the Dow closed down.
First the scoreboard:
Dow: 13,992, +48.9, +0.3 percent
S&P 500: 1,517, +8.5, +0.5 percent
NASDAQ: 3,193, +28.7, +0.9 percent
And now the top stories:
- The two biggest economies in the world announced their trade balance figures.
- Last night, China's January trade figures crushed expectations. Imports surged 28.8 percent, which was way ahead of the expectation of 23.5 percent growth. Exports jumped 25 percent sailing past expectations for 17.5 percent growth. In other words, consumption is robust in the world's second largest economy. And all of its customers, which includes almost every major economy in the world, are healthier than expected.
- "They could be heavily distorted by the [Chinese New Year] holidays (note there are 22 working days in Jan this year versus 17 in Jan last year)," wrote Bank of America's Ting Lu in a note to clients.
- In the U.S., the trade deficit plummeted at a breathtaking 20.7 percent to $38.5 billion. Economists were expecting it to narrow to $46.0 billion. Much of this shrinkage was due to a huge decline in energy imports and a big jump in energy exports. Bloomberg notes that this was the lowest petroleum deficit since August 2009. For the full year, barrels of crude oil imported fell to its lowest level since 1997.
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