Hiring at US companies accelerated in February, rising 287,000, the biggest monthly advance in nearly two years, according to the Labor Department. The faster increase translates into the strongest year-over-year rise since last August. The upbeat data gives the Federal Reserve another excuse to raise interest rates at the March 20-21 monetary policy meeting.
Interest in alternative data sets has exploded in recent years as investors scour the world for relatively obscure numbers that may offer insights overlooked in standard economic releases. Some of these figures are genuinely useful for developing an edge in trading and portfolio design, but there’s plenty of junk, too. Accordingly, caveat emptor applies when it comes to new and often untested economic and financial indicators. One intriguing set of benchmarks that’s caught our attention comes by way of LegalShield, which sells legal services products. The firm also publishes several alternative economic data sets, including the LegalShield Real Estate Index. In early February, the company issued a press release that noted that this so-called leading indicator was predicting weakness for existing home sales. A few weeks later, the official January sales report did in fact reflect a decline, according to the National Association of Realtors. One accurate forecast could be luck, of course, but Legal Shield’s data is certainly worthy of a closer look as a potential source of deeper perspective on economic trends. For some context, The Capital Spectator posed five questions to James Rosseau, Legal Shield’s chief commercial officer, about the firm’s alternative economic benchmarks.
Trump agrees to meet with N. Korea’s Kim Jong Un: CNN
US-N. Korea summit may bring progress, but Asia also sees risks: NY Times
Trump OKs steel & aluminum tariffs, with exemptions for Mexico, Canada: Reuters
China warns of “strong” reaction to Trump’s tariffs: Fortune
GOP faces possibility of embarassing loss in special Penn. election: Bloomberg
European Central Bank takes another step away from stimulus: Reuters
Jobless claims in US jump after dipping to near-50-year low: MarketWatch
US employers announce 20% fewer job cuts in Feb vs. Jan: CG&C
US leads the world for imposing protectionist measures: Washington Post