Initial Claims

We are forty-five days into 2012 and the high volatility of the stock market that we grew so accustomed to in 2011 has vanished.  The stock market has moved higher this year with little volatility on the back of stronger U.S. economic data.  Manufacturing data, railroad traffic and auto sales have all seen improvement of late.  Another example of stronger economic data is the drop in Initial Claims for Unemployment (read:less people getting layed off).

It certainly is great news to see an improvement in the U.S. economy however we still have a long way to go to reach the level of growth needed to truly revive the economy.

Outside the U.S.:

Even China is taking measures to head off a potential financial crisis in that country.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/13/us-china-debt-idUSTRE81C07420120213

Japan saw a 4th Quarter GDP contraction of 2.3% (read: Japan’s economy continues to stumble).
http://www.dailyforex.com/forex-fundamental-analysis/2012/02/Japans-GDP-Figures-Worse-Than-Anticipated/10905

Greece may get a second round of bail-out money from the European Central Bank but Europe has moved no closer to solving this crisis.
http://www.voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/7622

We continue to closely monitor the markets.  January was unusual in that the stocks, gold, bonds and oil all had gains.  This has occurred four other times since 2007, with it marking a short-term market top on three of those occasions.
http://www.businessinsider.com/morgan-stanley-january-exhibited-this-tell-tale-sign-of-a-market-top-2012-2