Weekly Jobless Claims Brings Very Pleasant Surprise

The U.S. Labor Department is out with its report on weekly jobless claims. Thursday’s reading amounted to a good change from the prior week, as the weekly claims fell by 16,000 to 339,000. Bloomberg was calling for a consensus of 350,000 and Dow Jones also was calling for 350,000. The prior week’s report was revised from an initial reading of 352,000 up to 355,000.

Two other metrics were worth noting as well. The so-called four-week average of claims, which aims to smooth out weekly volatility, fell by 4,500 to 357,500. Another key issue is the army of unemployed measured by the continuing jobless claims, with a one-week lag. This measurement fell by a whopping 93,000 to 3,000,000.

Today’s jobless claims data from the Labor Department did have the odds in its favor of being a mostly market-neutral or even positive bias, because during the slew of weak broader economic reports the one area that had remained flat or better than the rest were the employment components. This also marked the last official broad government economic report before the first-quarter GDP report on Friday from the Commerce Department. We have outlined in detail why we think that GDP is being set up for a big disappointment on Friday morning.

DJIA futures have continued their rise after the claims were reported. DJIA futures are up 54 points to 14,669 and S&P futures are up six points to 1,580.

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