Data Analysis

May 19th, 2016 9:03 am | by John Jansen |

Via Stephen Stanley at Amherst Pierpont Securities:

Initial unemployment claims fell back by 16K in the week ended May 14, giving back most of the 20K jump in the prior period.  The bulk of the swings in the last two weeks reflected a one-off bump in claims in the state of New York.  The number of new filers in NY surged from 18.6K to 33K in the week ended May 7 and then declined to 18.5K in the latest period, consistent with my school break hypothesis (though others are welcome to entertain the Verizon strikers as an explanation).  The four-week average is 276K, pretty close to the levels seen over the past year or so.  I would not be surprised to see initial claims drift a little lower over the next few weeks, but the broad picture is that the pace of layoffs remains fairly steady at a historically low clip.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Fed index of regional factory conditions was steady just below zero at -1.8.  The new orders, shipments, and employment gauges were all slightly negative, within a few points of zero, consistent with my view that the manufacturing sector is largely dragging along the bottom.  It was encouraging that the employment measure bounced to -3.3 after sliding to a disturbing -18.5 in April.  The other eyebrow raiser was that both the prices paid and prices received barometers both increased and were around +15, reaching 19-month highs in both cases.  The former is not a surprise given the rebound in commodity prices, but the latter is worth taking note if it persists.

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