Weekly Jobless Claims Tick Higher but Remain Incredibly Low

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The U.S. Department of Labor has released its view on weekly jobless claims with another incredibly low number. Claims in the week ending August 19 were 234,000. The prior week’s unrevised claims were 232,000. Dow Jones had its consensus estimate at 235,000 for last week, Bloomberg was looking for 237,000, and Reuters had its target at 238,000.

The four-week moving average, which aims to smooth out weekly volatility, was down by 2,750 to 237,750.

Continuing claims, those taking benefits for two weeks or more, was unchanged at 1,954,000 for the week of August 12. The prior report was revised up 1,000 to 1,954,000.

As far as the big picture goes, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported:

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending August 5 was 1,920,823, a decrease of 31,581 from the previous week. There were 2,123,118 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2016.

While this weekly claims report is not different enough from estimates and the prior week to move markets, the reality is that jobless claims remain incredibly low, and this is setting up the stage for yet another strong unemployment and payrolls report for August.

Until weekly jobless claims begin making real directional changes, these reports will be ignored or are going to garner far less attention than they used to.

Stocks opened higher on Thursday after Wednesday’s sell-off. As we have noted with our daily review of analyst calls, the one theme that has ruled for over half of the eight-year bull market is that investors keep finding new reasons to buy stocks after every sell-off.

Stay tuned.