On Friday, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that the unemployment rate dropped to 8.5 percent in December on the addition of 200,000 jobs. That figure is down from a revised 8.7 percent in November.
The largely positive report helped drive down a benchmark gauge of U.S. company credit risk for the first time in three days. The Markit CDX North America Investment Grade Index of credit-default swaps, which investors use to gauge losses on corporate debt or to inform credit decisions
, fell by 0.6 basis points to reach 119.4. The index typically declines inversely to investor confidence. Credit swaps pay buyers the original value if a debtor fails to meet its repayment obligations. One basis point equals $1,000 annually on a contract protecting $10 million of debt, Bloomberg reports. "This is exciting news," Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi wrote in a report, according to the source. "The economy is putting people back to work." The latest Markit Index reading reflects a slew of recent news suggesting a substantial uptick in economic activity. As Europe appears to be mired in a recession, U.S. markets are working to cushion themselves from an overseas downturn.