While it’s always important to keep in mind that neither one week nor one month make for a trend, there is good economic news to pass along:
— There were 323,000 first-time claims filed for jobless benefits last week, down by 21,000 from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration says. It was the fewest for any week since late September. Reuters says the news suggests “some strengthening of labor market conditions.”
— Wholesale prices fell 0.2 percent in October from September, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s the second month in a row that those costs dipped. The decline was led by a 1.5 percent drop in wholesale energy prices. The data reinforce the sense that inflation is well under control.
The day’s other major economic story looks to be the vote Thursday morning by the Senate Banking Committee on the nomination of Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Janet Yellen to become the central bank’s chairman.
Yellen, who if confirmed by the full Senate would be the first woman to lead the Fed, is expected to win the committee’s OK. President Obama’s fellow Democrats hold 12 of the panel’s 22 seats and at least one of the committee’s Republicans — Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee — has said he supports the nomination.
Ben Bernanke’s term as Fed chairman officially ends in January.