U.S. Retail Sales Fell by 1.9 Percent in December

As the Omicron variant surged across the U.S., retail sales dipped 1.9% during the final month of 2021, according to information released by the Commerce Department on Friday.

Data shows that holiday shoppers took warnings about shipping delays seriously and shifted their holiday shopping schedule up last year. On the whole, consumer demand led sales to grow by 16.9% in 2021.

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Biden’s Approval Rating Hits New Low, Least Popular Among Hispanics

President Joe Biden’s approval rating continues to drop as voters grow increasingly dissatisfied with his handling of key issues, according to the results of a new poll.

Biden’s approval rating dropped to a new low of 33%, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, with 53% of Americans saying they disapprove of the president’s performance. The rating is down 3% since November 2021, when Biden held a 36% approval rating.

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Another Key Inflation Indicator Surges to Record High in 2021

The Producer Price Index (PPI), which measures inflation at the wholesale level, surged to 9.7% on a year-over-year basis as of December 2021, marking the highest rate in history, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced Thursday.

The BLS reported that the PPI grew 0.2% in December as prices continued to soar amid growing supply chain disruptions and COVID-19 concerns. As of November, the measure grew 9.6% on a year-over basis and 0.8% in that month alone.

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Trade Deficit Hits Record as Demand for Imports Soars

The U.S. trade deficit soared to a record high in November as consumer demand for goods and the easing of supply chain bottlenecks caused imports to surge, according to the Commerce Department.

The goods deficit increased in November to $99 billion as consumers shopped for holiday gifts earlier than in previous years, the Commerce Department announced Thursday. Imports outweighed exports, bringing the U.S. trade deficit in goods and services in November to $80.2 billion.

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Zillow to Shut Down House-Flipping Business, Lay Off 2,000 Workers After Disastrous Earnings

Zillow is closing down its home buying and selling business and laying off 25% of its workforce after the online real estate company missed its third-quarter earnings estimate.

The company announced in a statement attached to its earnings report Tuesday that it would be shutting down its Offers program, which buys and sells houses, after the company reported a net loss, partly due to failures in its Offers division. Zillow attributed the change to its inability to accurately forecast the housing market.

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Coronavirus Is Fading as the Top Issue on Americans’ Minds, Polls Show

COVID-19 is taking a back seat when it comes to the economy, education and more, recent polls show.

In a new Reuters/Ipsos poll, only about 12% of American adults surveyed said they would list public health issues, which include COVID-19, as a top priority, below economic issues like the job market and inflation. The poll also showed 73% of respondents saying political leaders should focus on growing jobs and the economy and two-thirds of voters, including a majority of both Republicans and Democrats, agreeing that “inflation is a very big concern for me.”

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Trade Chief Katherine Tai Says U.S. Will ‘Build On’ Trump’s Tariffs to Fight China

Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the U.S. will “build on” existing tariffs targeting billions of dollars in Chinese imports issued during the Trump administration as President Joe Biden seeks to define his relationship with China, Politico reported.

Tai told Politico the Section 301 tariffs former President Donald Trump issued have “had the effect of getting a lot of people’s attention,” including U.S. companies, their workers, trading partners and China itself.

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Jobless Claims Jump to 362,000, Unexpectedly Increase Again

The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims increased to 362,000 last week as the economy continues to slowly recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics figure released Thursday represents an increase in the number of new jobless claims compared to the week ending Sept. 18, when 351,000 new jobless claims were reported. Jobless claims were expected to decline to 335,000, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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Retail Sales Dipped in July Amid Spiking Coronavirus Cases

Woman shopping

Retail sales in the U.S. declined in July as the number of coronavirus cases spiked, localities renewed some restrictions and businesses delayed their return to in-person work.

Sales dropped 1.1% in July compared to June and totaled $617.7 billion, according to the Census Bureau report released Tuesday. The decrease was driven mainly by declining used and new car sales, clothing purchases, building materials sales, sports goods sales and furniture purchases.

Economists expected retail sales to fall 0.3%, a relatively modest drop compared to the actual decline, CNBC reported. All major stock market indices declined between 0.5% and 0.8% on Tuesday morning following the worse-than-expected report.

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