Evidence is mounting that the US economy is not immune to the contagion of the global economic slowdown. The Commerce Department announced today that the US economy expanded at an anemic (seasonally adjusted) 0.7% in the fourth quarter. This compares to advances of 2% in third quarter and 3.9% in second quarter of last year. Some argue that seasonal adjustments currently used by government statisticians do not reflect the evolving economy, but it's hard to see how the economy escapes the downdrafts of global slowing, an unprecedented drop in oil prices and a surging dollar.

Good news on jobs, leading economic indicators, and comments from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve sent stocks soaring on Thursday.  So far this year the Dow and S&P are up roughly 24% while the NASDAQ is up 46%.  Stocks are poised to have their first up year since 1999.