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Weekly jobless claims – What to know in markets Thursday

Emily McCormick

As traders return from Wednesday’s market closure for Christmas, two pieces of economic data will be in focus.

The Department of Labor’s weekly jobless claims report is set for release at 8:30 a.m. ET, providing a latest check on unemployment as the year comes to a close.

Consensus economists expect weekly unemployment claims to dip down to a seasonally adjusted 220,000 for the week ended December 21, according to Bloomberg-compiled data. This would nearly fully unwind a surprise surge in jobless claims two weeks ago in the wake of the Thanksgiving holiday.

For the week ended December 14, initial claims for state unemployment benefits had fallen to 234,000, paring some gains from a seven-and-a-half year high of 252,000 the prior week.

As of the most recent print, the four-week moving average for jobless claims was 225,500, with the underlying trend in claims pointing to a still-strong labor market, with the unemployment rate overall at a 50-year low as of November.

Worker At Construction Site Is Fixing The Form For The Beam
Worker At Construction Site Is Fixing The Form For The Beam

“The failure of jobless claims to reverse all of last week’s surge is no big deal; the problem is in the seasonals, not the underlying trend,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist for Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a note last week. “We expect claims to return only gradually to the pre-Thanksgiving trend, about 215K, by early next year.”

Earlier in the session at 7 a.m. ET, the Mortgage Bankers Association is set to release its weekly print on mortgage applications, a day later than usual due to the Christmas holiday.

Bloomberg does not track consensus estimates for weekly mortgage applications. Mortgage applications have begun to edge lower on a week-on-week basis heading into the typically slower time of year for home sales, with last week’s applications declining by 5.0% and more than reversing a 3.8% increase the week prior. But lower rates and improving consumer sentiment around economic growth have pushed mortgage volumes up compared to last year, with last week’s activity still representing a 10% rise over the same period last year.

No major corporate earnings results are schedule for release on Thursday.

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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