The economic data yesterday were mixed.
Japan saw continued improvement in its leading index in December. From Bloomberg:
Japan's broadest measure of future economic activity...climbed to 80 percent from a revised 54.5 percent in November, according to a Cabinet Office report in Tokyo today, matching the median forecast of 20 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. It was the third straight month the index was above 50 percent...
Meanwhile, Reuters reports a rebound in Canadian purchasing activity in January.
The Ivey Purchasing Managers Index...rose to 54.1 in January from 48.3 in December... The result was slightly ahead of market expectations of a reading just above 53, but was still one of the weakest monthly readings of the past year.
But there was negative news from Europe. From Bloomberg:
European retail sales dropped in January for the first time in four months amid rising fuel costs and concern about job cuts, the Bloomberg purchasing managers' index showed.
A seasonally adjusted index of sales in the dozen nations sharing the euro fell to 49.7 from 52.2 in December, led by France, according to a survey for Bloomberg LP by NTC Research Ltd. A reading below 50 signals a decline. Sales fell from a year earlier for a 21st month...
Manufacturing orders in Germany, Europe's largest economy, fell for the first time in four months in December, led by a drop in demand from abroad, a report showed today. Orders declined 1.6 percent from November, when they gained 1.3 percent, the government said.
Meanwhile, in the US, suggestions by BusinessWeek that the economy is stronger than you think got short shrift from Brad Setser and Barry Ritholtz from two different perspectives.