Friday Afternoon Cheat Sheet: 3 Stories That Moved Markets

The markets pulled through economic turbulence to close up across the board for the week. Strong international trade data released on Friday helped pull the major U.S. indices to a higher close, even after Forex concerns brewed up some bad mojo earlier in the week.

At the close: DJIA: +0.35%, S&P 500: +0.57%, NASDAQ: +0.91%.

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Here are three stories that helped move the markets on Friday:

1) The advance estimate that showed gross domestic product contracting 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter could be revised into growth territory, if strong international trade data has anything to do with it (and it does). The U.S. trade deficit shrank far more than expected in December, narrowing to just -$38.5 billion. This compares to a consensus estimate of -$46.0 billion and November’s reading of $48.6 billion.

Leading the charge was increases in industrial and civilian aircraft exports. U.S. services exports widened their surplus to $17.7 billion for the month… (Read more.)

euro zone2) There are high hopes that the United States and the European Union will one day reach a cross-Atlantic free-trade agreement, but harsh reality dictates that such a thing could still be years away. Meeting on Friday in Brussels, EU officials decided to bite the bullet and pressure the White House to engage in FTA negotiations, but so far American officials have resisted. The U.S. is concerned that some old-hat regulatory and political differences between the two economic bodies will drown productivity in banal argument.

At odds are any number of issues, but topping the list of hotly-debated subjects is regulation surrounding food and agricultural products. For example, each economic region has drastically different approaches to regulation surrounding genetically-modified food and the how to properly subsidize farmers… (Read more.)

3) Consumer borrowing increased for the fifth consecutive month in the United States. Overall consumer consumer credit, minus mortgages, increased $14.6 billion to a total of nearly $2.8 trillion, according to data released by the Federal Reserve. Economists were looking for an increase of just $14 billion.

Leading the credit charge were increases in student debt and auto loans, which were only partially offset by a decline in revolving credit… (Read more.)

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