The December NFIB Small Business Optimism Index ended 2019 historically strong, with a reading of 102.7. The report went on to say that an increased number of small business owners reported better business conditions and expect higher nominal sales in the next three months. NFIB Chief Economist William Dunkelberg said, "2020 is starting out with a solid foundation for continued growth, two years into the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that's providing fuel to grow small businesses and their workforce."
Inflation at the consumer level remained subdued in December with the indexes for gasoline, shelter, and medical care modestly higher while underlying inflation measures declined. The Labor Department reported that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.2% last month, inline with estimates and down from the 0.3% increase in November. Core CPI, which strips out volatile food and energy, rose 0.1%, down from a gain of 0.2% in November. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services.
Earnings season unofficially kicked off today with some of the largest banks in the U.S. reporting their quarterly numbers. JPMorgan Chase, the nation's largest bank, reported a profit of $2.57 per share, above the $2.35 expected. Citigroup reported that fourth-quarter profits rose 15% or $2.15 per share versus the $1.81 estimated. Wells Fargo saw a steep decline in profits due in part to litigation costs and persistently low-interest rates.