Stocks and exchange traded funds (ETFs) are only marginally higher this morning. Vice President Joe Biden said taxpayers have “gotten their money’s worth” from the stimulus, and home construction showed improved figures.

Biden said that the $787 billion stimulus package passed by Congress has given taxpayers their money’s worth, defending it from criticism by Republicans, reports the Associated Press. He says that initiatives have saved up to 2 million jobs and that the program is only at the halfway point.

Home construction continues to improve, gaining 2.8% in January. Activity is now the highest it’s been in six months, report Martin Crutsinger and Daniel Wagner for the Associated Press. SPDR S&P Homebuilders (NYSEArca: XHB) is down slightly this morning. [3 Signs of Improvement in Homebuilding.]

Other positive numbers from the report include:

  • Industrial production rose for the seventh consecutive month in January
  • Manufacturing output rose 1%, thanks to an almost 5% improvement in auto production
  • Indexes for both utilities and mining gained 0.7%
  • Capacity utilization rose to 72.6%; it’s still below the average close to 80%, however

Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE) posted a 19% gain in profits and raised its forecast for the fiscal year. The farm equipment manufacturer credited cost cutting and restructuring with the improvement, The Wall Street Journal reports. iShares Dow Jones U.S. Industrial Sector (NYSEArca: IYJ) is up slightly this morning; Deere is 1.6%.

After weakening yesterday, the U.S. dollar is once again adding gains, reaching a two-week high against the yen. The improvements were fueled by the strong leading economic indicators report, which has markets betting that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates ahead of schedule, reports Fabio Alves for The Wall Street Journal. PowerShares DB U.S. Dollar Bullish (NYSEArca: UUP) is up nearly 1% this morning. [For more on currencies, visit our currency page.]

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.

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