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Economy This Week: Productivity Up 2.6% in 2006; Consumer Credit at Record $2.4 trillion

Among the key US economic indicators this week: ISM services index rose to 59; productivity grew a healthy 3% annual rate in Q4; consumer credit surged 4.5% to a record $2.4 trillion in 2006; initial jobless claims increased 3,000 last week; and January retails chain store sales jumped a strong 3.7%

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Fewer New Jobs Added in January; Unemployment Rate Rises to 4.6%

Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 111,000 in January, after 206,000 jobs were created in December, and the unemployment rate was edged up to 4.6% from 4.5% in December 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. 

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January Job Cuts Jump 15% to Nearly 62,975; But Down 39% YoY: Challenger Survey

In January, U.S. employers announced plans to reduce payrolls by 62,975 jobs, up 15% from 54,643 in December, - on cost cutting; downturn in demand; and the closing of facilities - according to monthly downsizing data released by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

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Economic Indicators: 8.4% Home Sales Drop Biggest in 17 Years; Online Job Ads Up 17%

Total existing-home sales declined 0.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 6.22 million units in December from 6.27 million in November, according to the National Association of Realtors. Sales were down 7.9% in last year from 6.75 million-unit pace in December 2005.

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2006 U.S. Labor Productivity Growth at the Lowest in More than a Decade

U.S. and European productivity growth was relatively slow in 2006, U.S. productivity grew just 1.4% in 2006 while the EU increased at at1.5%, according to preliminary estimates by The Conference Board. U.S. labor productivity growth in 2006 was the lowest in more than a decade. 

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US Economy Adds 167,000 Jobs in December; Payrolls Rose 1.8 million in 2006

Nonfarm employment increased by 167,000 in December, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.5%, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Over the year, payroll employment rose by 1.8 million. Average hourly earnings rose by 8 cents, or 0.5%, in December.

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Key U.S. Economic Indicators for Today: ISM Services Slows; Factory Orders Up

Here is a quick summary of the key U.S. economic indicators released today: ISM Services Index slows; Factory Orders increased; Pending Home Sales eased; December retail sales rose 3.1%; Auto Sales decline; Challenger layoff report; and Monsters Online Employment report.

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Fewest U.S. Job Cuts In Six Years!; Planned Cuts Under a Million in 2006: Challenger Report

Planned job cuts in U.S. declined 22% in 2006 to 839,822, about 232,000 fewer than the 1,072,054 cuts in 2005, according to the job-cut report by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., the global outplacement consultancy.  It was the first time since 2000 that annual job-cut announcements came in under 1,000,000.

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Key Economic Indicators for Today: GDP, Jobless Claims, Leading Indicators

U.S. GDP growth slowed to a 2% pace in the third quarter, a slight downgrade from the 2.2% annual rate estimated a month ago for Q3, according to final estimates released by the Commerce Department. The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.2 percent in the third quarter.

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Economic Indicators for Today: Export/Import Prices Rose; Initial Claims Drop

The U.S. Import Price Index rose 0.2 percent in November, according to the U.S. Department of Labor data released today. The increase was led by a 0.7 percent advance in nonpetroleum prices, which more than offset a decline in the price index for petroleum. Excluding all fuels, import prices rose a modest 0.1 percent.

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