The Labor Department is out with its latest weekly jobless claims report, which is also the last report ahead of Friday’s key unemployment and payrolls report. Claims fell by 18,000 to 324,000, versus what was expected to be 345,000 by both Dow Jones and by Bloomberg.
Note that this flies against the negative numbers seen from TrimTabs and from ADP earlier this week, and it may act to bolster some of the lowered expectations for Friday. Another issue to consider is that this claims figure is at the lowest point since before the recession.
Two more internal readings are of note here as well. The four-week average aims to smooth out volatility, but even this fell by 16,000 to 342,250. Continuing claims, the army of unemployed, with a one-week lag in the reporting, actually rose by 12,000 to 3,019,000.
Today’s report is pleasant surprise because the markets were bracing for more bad news. We still think that the bias will be toward lower-than-expected payroll additions from the private sector on Friday, but this report may mute some of the severity of the low expectations.
Today’s data also flies against the Sell in May and Go Away primer we just published this week to reflect the poor economic readings.