After taking a breather for the Christmas holiday yesterday, stock market participants are back at it this Thursday morning, although we expect trading volume to stay relatively light. Futures are up slightly, continuing to build on the Nasdaq to new all-time highs. The Dow and S&P 500 remain near all-time highs, but finished down slightly on Christmas Eve’s half-trading day.
This morning, we see Initial Jobless Claims for last week get back down to their long-term range of 200-225K for the first time in 3 weeks: 222K on the headline, roughly in-line with the 220K analysts were expecting. This takes the 3-week moving average to 239K after two weeks considerably higher than the average, based at least partially on holiday season hiring.
Over the past 12 weeks, we see an average new jobless claims figure of 221K, which is consistent with near-50-year lows we’ve seen over the past couple years of new jobless claims data. For a little historical perspective, from 1967 to 2019, the weekly average for initial claims is 351K. So even at slightly elevated levels of late, we’re still showing claims consistent with an overall robust U.S. labor market.
Continuing Claims from two weeks ago dipped from the slightly upwardly revised previous week — 1.719 million were reported this morning, down from the 1.725 million in the week prior. We had enjoyed sub-1.7 million levels for most of this past year, but again, we’re talking 50-year lows for continuing jobless claims at those numbers. Again, strength in domestic employment.
In the sleepy wake of Christmas and New Year’s next week, we won’t be back with monthly nonfarm payroll totals for the month of December until 2 weeks from tomorrow, January 10th. These numbers month-by-month have been pretty volatile this year, with a low of 56K new jobs created last February but a whopping 266K from November. We commonly see predictions of 180K new jobs created in a given month, and the monthly average this year so far is for exactly 180K.
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