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Economic and Earnings Data Deluge

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Weekly jobless claims came in better than expected this Thursday morning, with both new and continuing claims falling well below estimates, and revisions to the prior week coming down significantly, as well. On the headline, Initial Jobless Claims worked their way down to 787K from an expected 860K, with the previous week’s 842K dropping by 56K claims. These are big moves, and all in the right direction.

Continuing Claims came in at 8.373 million, almost a million claims lower than the downwardly revised 9.367 million the previous week. These figures reflect data a week earlier than initial claims, meaning we may see another leg down next week in longer-term jobless claims based on today’s initial claims data. In any case, both sets of numbers are the lowest we’ve seen since the beginning of the pandemic’s impact on the labor market, back in March.

That’s not at all to say these are now considered “good” numbers. True, we’re out of the “millions” categories on weekly jobless claims, but even today’s 787K on initial is 2.5x the last time we were below the million mark in March, when we saw 282K new claims. Thankfully, the historic peaks in joblessness we saw in April look to be a thing of the past, but we still have a long slog ahead before we’re truly back to “pre-pandemic” levels in the workforce.

Accentuating this point are the market indexes following these better-than-expected unemployment numbers. A continued lack of a stimulus, which now threatens to extend to after the next presidential inauguration — either the second for President Trump or the first for former Vice President Biden — and a continual increase in pandemic emergency unemployment relief, are hard realities it would appear the market is now taking into account.

After the market opens, we’ll see results from September’s Existing Home Sales. As we know from other economic metrics we’ve been following the past few months, home ownership is one of the consistently strongest elements of the U.S. economy in 2020. Expectations are for 6.36 million existing homes to have been sold last month, up from August’s actual 6.00 million reported.

Coca-Cola KO beat expectations on both its top and bottom lines for Q3, with 55 cents per share outperforming the Zacks consensus by a solid dime, and sales of $8.65 billion up 3.58% from estimates. This marks the fourth straight earnings beat for the iconic brand, and shares are up nearly 3% in today’s pre-market on the news. (The stock is still down 6% year to date.) For more on KO’s earnings, click here.

The biggest rail operator my market, United Pacific UNP, disappointed investors with a 2-cent miss to $2.01 per share on revenues of $4.92 billion, which missed the Zacks consensus by 1.29%. Freight volumes reflected the bounce-back in the U.S. economy overall, up 19% in the quarter, but the stock is selling off 3.4% early. UNP had been a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) company prior to the Q3 earnings report. For more on UNP’s earnings, click here.

AT&T T missed earnings estimates by a penny to 76 cents per share, but topped on revenues by 1.89% to $42.34 billion in the quarter. This was enough to surge its stock price by 4.75% in the early session, still digging out of the whole year to date, which was more than -30% prior to the earnings release. For more on T’s earnings, click here.

Kimberly-Clark KMB is down in early trading this morning, following an earnings miss by 4 cents to $1.72 per share. Sales of Kleenex, Huggies, etc. in the quarter eked out a near-1% beat to $4.68 billion, but shares are selling off 5% ahead of the opening bell. This marks the first negative earnings surprise for Kimberly-Clark since Q4 2018. For more on KMB’s earnings, click here.

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