U.S. Economic Indicators

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index edged down 0.4 point to 104.4 in December but remains near all-time highs, as four of the components increased and six decreased. Expected real sales growth and expected business conditions both worsened. NFIB Report

U.S. News

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (“JOLTS”), a closely-watched measure of labor market health, indicated there were 6.9 million job openings at the end of November, a slight decrease from October.  Hires edged down to 5.7 million while the quits rate remained at 2.3%.  BLS Report

The Wall Street Journal reports that new signs of a weakening German economy are raising fears that last year’s slowdown could spill into 2019, increasing the challenges for the European and American economies. Falling industrial production and business confidence in Germany also caused French, Italian, and Spanish manufacturers to lower their expectations. WSJ

Lingling Wei reports for the Wall Street Journal that the U.S. and China opened talks Monday to resolve the trade fight threatening the global economy. Trade officials from Washington are attempting to get China to agree to more Chinese purchases of U.S. goods and services, increased access to Chinese markets for the U.S., and more protections of U.S. intellectual property. WSJ