Two bits of data were released from the Labor Department today. Weekly jobless claims is a live reading, and producer prices measuring wholesale inflation is a February reading. With the DJIA up nine straight days, traders and investors are going to be looking at each number handily to keep the momentum alive.
We already expected an uptick in prices on the wholesale level from the Producer Price Index due to higher energy costs. The headline figure rose by 0.7% in February, versus 0.2% in January, and Dow Jones was calling for estimates of 0.7%. The core reading, which takes out food and energy, came in with a gain of 0.2% in February. That core reading was 0.2% in January and it was expected to be only 0.1% for February according to Dow Jones. We would go on and on about the big uptick in the headline wholesale inflation, but the reality is that it was obvious. considering that energy prices were on a rampage at the time.
The weekly jobless claims is where the somewhat good news is. Weekly claims fell by 10,000 to 332,000, versus a Dow Jones and Bloomberg expectations of about 350,000. So sequestration did not crush the numbers. The prior week’s claims were revised upward by 2,000 to 342,000. The army of unemployed, measured by the continuing claims with a one week lag, fell by 89,000 to 3,024,000.
Today’s weekly jobless claims is better than expected, but the PPI reading should have been seen from about 10 miles away. S&P futures are up three points and the DJIA futures are up 27 points. Keep in mind that the DJIA is now up nine days in a row and is trying to go to 10 days.