Thursday, December 24, 2009

Initial Jobless Claims: 452,000; Durable Goods up 0.2%

- by New Deal democrat

The BLS reported that for the week ending December 19, seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims fell to 452,000, down from last week's 480,000.

The 4-week moving average is now 465,250, compared with 468,000 last week. The 4 week seasonally adjusted moving average is now about 31% lower than the peak of 658,750 on April 3 of this year. (The last two "jobless recoveries" coincided with new claims declining no more than 20% from peak).

Unadjusted, there were 561,902 new claims, an increase of 6,942 from the week before, showing how much seasonal volatility exists in the weekly numbers at this time of year. Today's reading is well below the initial claims numbers for this time last year, and seasonally adjusted is the best number in 1 year and 3 months.

In summary, based on my prior research, initial jobless claims are continuing to suggest that actual job growth is taking place in the economy this month.
Meanwhile, durable goods orders also increased 0.2%. Bloomberg reports that:

Gains outside of transportation were broad-based, with increases in demand for machinery, metals, computers and communications gear.

Shipments of non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, which is used in calculating gross domestic product, climbed 0.8 percent in November and October’s reading was revised to show a 1.5 percent jump, compared with a previously estimated 0.3 percent drop. Bookings for such goods, a proxy for future business spending, increased 2.9 percent in November.

The figures suggest business investment will contribute to growth.

While we still don't have figures for several items in the LEI, between expanding positive bond yields, declining new jobless claims, and a rebound in housing permits and consumer sentiment, it is beginning to look like December's LEI could be a blowout, which would give us close to the highest YoY reading on the LEI in over 25 years. This would put the Conference Board's measure in the same territory as ECRI's long leading indicators, which already reached their highest point since 1982 this autumn.