Today's Economic Data Highlights

Claims, inventories, the federal budget balance, and the Fed’s balance sheet….
8:30: Unemployment insurance claims
….a small improvement?  Abstracting from weekly volatility, both initial and continuing claims are on modest downward tracks.  Forecasters expect this report to extend these trends closer to the average of recent weeks.
For initial claims, median forecast (of 51): 410k, ranging from 385k to 450k; last 415k.
For continuing claims, median forecast (of 16): 3.9 million, ranging from 3.88mm to 3.97mm; last 3.925mm.

10:00: Wholesale inventories for Dec…a moderate increase?  These inventories are goods that are essentially in transit from factories or from the docks to final destinations such as retail outlets and are therefore difficult to forecast, and they have been quite volatile of late.  For example, they rose 1.7% in October but fell 0.2% in November.  The median increase is about one-half of what the Commerce Department assumed in its preliminary GDP estimate for the fourth quarter.
Median forecast (of 35): +0.7%, ranging from -0.4% to +1.8%; last -0.2%.
14:00: The US budget balance for Jan…better than a year ago, once corrected for calendar quirks.  The CBO estimates that the US Treasury ran a $53n deficit in January.  This is $10bn larger than in January 2010, but $16bn smaller once special calendar effects are taken into account.  This would bring the four-month fiscal-year total to $424bn., versus $431bn at the same point in FY 2010.
CBO -$53bn; median forecast (of 29) -$55bn, ranging from -$70bn to +$60.5bn; last (Jan 2010): -$42.6bn.
16:30: Federal Reserve balance sheet….Last week the balance sheet expanded by nearly $26bn.  It is closing in on $2.5trn, on its way to what we expect will be about a $2.9trn level by the time the asset purchase program is done in June.
Via Goldman