Jobless Claims 265k, -43k to 15-Year Low in Holiday Week.

This is the lowest level for initial claims since April 15, 2000 when it was 259,000. The previous week’s level was revised up by 1,000 from 307,000 to 308,000. The 4-week moving average was 298,500, a decrease of 8,250 from the previous week’s revised average.

Pending Home Sales Index
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Highlights
Indications on housing had been turning up — but not after today’s pending home sales index which fell a very steep 3.7 in December. A decline was not expected at all with the result far underneath the Econoday low estimate for plus 0.3 percent. All regions show single digit declines in the month including the two most closely watched regions, the South (down 2.6 percent) and the West (down 4.6 percent).

Final sales of existing homes did pop higher in last week’s report for December but amid a still flat trend. Today’s pending sales report doesn’t point to any improvement, which is a bit of a mystery given how low mortgage rates are and how strong the job market is.

Another CB ‘raises taxes’:

*DANISH CENTRAL BANK CUTS DEPOSIT RATE TO -0.5% FROM -0.35%

Reads like a showdown brewing.

Greece won’t be able to fund itself in euro and will bounce checks without at least implied ECB support. That leaves going back to their own new currency, which carries the usual high risks of mismanagement by leadership that gets in it way over their heads, etc. That is, even with its own currency Greece has been ‘in crisis’ with unemployment, inflation, and interest rates all in double digits along with the corresponding currency depreciation. And it would fundamentally be a ‘strong euro’ bias, as Greek euro debt and bank deposits would likely vanish.

Eurozone May Not Blink First in Confrontation With Greece (WSJ) Alexis Tsipras has been prime minister of Greece for only 48 hours and has done little to back his claim of wanting to keep his country in the eurozone. His strategy appears to be to put himself at the head of a Europe-wide leftist assault against “austerity,” playing to an anti-German gallery in the hope of isolating Berlin. Mr. Tsipras and his finance minister have already been in contact with leftist governments in France and Italy. Madrid is clear that any deal with the Greek leader must be based on reform commitments at least as tough as those demanded of former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. Anything less would represent a win for Mr. Tsipras and fuel support for Spain’s own new radical leftist party, Podemos.

Greece Moves Quickly to Roll Back Austerity (WSJ) Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said “our priority is to support the economy, to help it get going again. We are ready to negotiate with our partners in order to reduce debt and find a fair and viable solution.” Government ministers said that the planned sale of the state’s 67% stake in the main port of Piraeus had been halted, that Greece would freeze the planned restructuring and sell off the country’s dominant, state-controlled utility company, and that the government would reverse some of the thousands of layoffs imposed as part of the bailout. Labor Minister Panos Skourletis also said that an increase to Greece’s basic wage will be among the first bills the government will submit to parliament.

Oil capex cuts continue:

Canada December Job Losses Deeper After Revisions (WSJ) The Canadian economy shed 11,300 net jobs last month instead of the 4,300 decline reported earlier in January, Statistics Canada said. December’s jobless rate was 6.7%, compared with the previously estimated 6.6%. Adjusted to U.S. concepts, the jobless rate was 5.7% last month, compared with 5.6% south of the border, Statistics Canada said. Net job creation in Canada for all of 2014 totaled 121,300 positions, the lowest level since the country posted a net loss in jobs in 2009, at the height of the global recession.

Shell oil:

The $15 billion spending cut, which will involve cancelling and deferring projects through 2017, which would represent a 14 percent cut per year from 2014 capital investment of $35 billion.

Reflecting the new oil price environment, Shell, having said in October it would keep its 2015 spending unchanged, announced it would have to cut what is one of the largest capital investment programmes in the industry.

“Shell is considering further reductions to capital spending should the evolving market outlook warrant that step, but is aiming to retain growth potential for the medium term,” it said in a statement.

No sign yet of US gasoline or electric consumption materially increasing:

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