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Jobless Claims Hit 48-Year Lows, Plus Q2 Earnings

Mark Vickery
We see an almost shocking headline of just 207K new claims last week, down 8,000 from the previous week's 215K, even more from the consensus estimate 224K.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Just when you thought Initial Jobless Claims couldn’t go lower, we see an almost shocking headline of just 207K new claims last week, down 8,000 from the previous week’s (slightly upwardly revised) 215K, down even more from the consensus estimate 224K and surprisingly beneath the headline from two weeks ago, which was 232K new claims. Which means not only do week remain within the new-ish, until recently unheard-of range of 220K-225K, but we’re closer to breaking under 200K weekly claims than we are to the previous higher range.

Not too belabor this result, but jobless claims have just hit a 48-year low. Continuing claims ticked up just a bit, from 1.743 million a week ago to 1.75 million in today’s read (reporting on a one-week lag). These are still applause-worthy numbers, fully consistent with our labor market narrative of historic levels of strength. Though new Q2 earnings reports will take center stage today and for the remainder of the week, these claims numbers are nothing short of stupendous.

The Philly Fed headline for July also came in hotter than expected: 25.7 versus the 20.8 estimate, and well above the June read of 19.9. These numbers are typically volatile in that they track the economic development of just one city in the U.S., though Philadelphia is still top-ten in population. The City of Brotherly Love has also seen business and infrastructure growth over much of the overall U.S. recovery.

Before heading into earnings reports, a new story has hit the tape this morning: Comcast CMCSA has announced it will forego further bids on assets of 21st Century Fox FOXA in order to solidify its focus on obtaining Sky Broadcasting assets. This would effectively put Disney DIS in the driver’s seat, although it, too, had been pursuing Sky. Not all the smoke has cleared yet, but it seems this long-awaited result is finally approaching

After today’s closing bell, we look forward to fresh earnings from Microsoft MSFT, among others. But with just time enough to record a few quarterly earnings, we focus on those with a high Zacks Rank:

Railroad major Union Pacific UNP, a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy)-rated stock, outperformed estimates on both top and bottom lines this morning, with $1.98 per share topping the $1.94 Zacks consensus, up 36.6% year over year, on quarterly revenues of $5.67 billion, topping thge $5.60 billion expected. Higher freight revenues boosted the top line, which rose 8% year over year. For more on UNP’s earnings, click here.

Zacks Rank #2-rated Fifth Third Bank FITB posted mixed results in its Q2 report, beating bottom-line estimates by 6 cents to 63 cents per share while narrowly missing on the top line to $1.59 billion from the $1.61 billion expected. That said, revenues did rise 4.6% year over year. For more on FITB’s earnings, click here.

We have plenty more to come in Q2 earnings assessments, so be sure to periodically check back in with us here at Zacks.com

Mark Vickery
Senior Editor

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