The U.S. Labor Department is out with yet another installment of its weekly jobless claims report. While many of the economic numbers have been disappointing on a larger scale, the number of claims fell by a whopping 43,000 to 265,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis.
It is not just good news to see such a large drop — this was the lowest level in over a decade. What may influence some of the numbers is that the prior weeks are historically skewed due to seasonal layoffs after the holidays.
Last week’s preliminary figure of 307,000 was revised up to 308,000. Also, the four-week average fell by 8,250 to 298,500. Even the continuing jobless claims, reported with a one-week lag, fell by some 71,000 to 2.4 million.
The official unemployment rate in December was 5.6%, and this bodes well for the January jobs report. Now we just have to hope that not too many oil and gas related jobs get cut, a trend that works worse for the broader economy than when other sectors have layoffs.
The Federal Reserve likely had a good idea what these numbers would look like, and it still maintains that it can be patient in rate hikes and that it will watch inflation and international developments. That being said, Dow Jones industrial Average futures were indicated up almost 70 points and S&P 500 futures were indicated up six points about 20 minutes after the weekly jobless claims figure hit the tape.
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