1/17/11 – theGrio & CNBC Market Update

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Last week, there were quite a few economic reports for investors to analyze. Small businesses were a little less optimistic about future business conditions in December, ending four months of gains.

New claims for jobless benefits jumped by 35,000 mainly due to retailers shedding temporary holiday workers. And housing woes continue, realty track says banks repossessed one million homes in 2010. This week earnings season continues with banks at the forefront – bank of America, Citigroup and wells Fargo are all scheduled to report. We also expect more economic data.

We’ll get a read on the housing recovery with the December housing starts report. In November, new home construction rose by nearly 4 percent driven by an increase in single-family homes. But building permits – a gauge of future construction declined 4 percent due to a slowdown in apartment construction.

We’ll also get the existing homes sales report for December from the national association of realtors. In November, sales of previously owned homes rose 5.6 percent, which was below estimates.

Is the economy improving? We’ll find out with the December leading indicators report, which tracks new claims for jobless benefits, manufacturing and stock prices. In November, the indicators rose more than 1 percent, the biggest increase since March and the fifth straight month of gains.