Any hopes that the S&P would hit a new all time high on horrible initial claims data may have been dashed following a report that initial claims for unemployment insurance dropped from an upward revised 355K (was 352K) to 339K, better than the expected 350K, and down to a nearly fresh five year low. It was unclear immediately following the report which states were estimated if any: as a reminder last week the DOL announced that 2 states had their data estimated. Continuing claims dropped from an upward revised 3093K to 3000K, the lowest in 5 years. Of course, with millions of people now prematurely out of the labor participation rate, what if any data the initial claims report provides these days, is very much unclear.
In perhaps the most boring initial claims release in a long time, the DOL revealed that in the week ending April 13, there were 352,000 new unemployment insurance claims, an increase of 4,000 from the prior week (naturally revised higher from 346K to 348K), and a slight miss of expectations of 350K. So far in 2013, there have been 8 misses and 7 beats of the expected claims number. The DOL also added that two states' claims were estimated in the past week: of course, if these were California and Illinois, one would imagine reality to be quite different than what is reported but who really cares about reality any more.
Following last month's surge in initial claims (subsequently revised even higher from 385K to 388K), the monthly edition in the series tumbled by 44K to 344K, below estimates of 360K, and which will be revised to 348K or so next month. The reason for the volatility given by the DOL is the "unwind of seasonal swings" which would make sense as the unadjusted number actually rose by 37,025, or about the amount the adjusted number dropped by. Continuing claims rose more than expected to 3,079K, from 3067K, however the number was revised so it can be palatable for MSM consumption, and as a result of the upward revision of February from 3063K to 3091K, it "declined." It is unclear how many if any states were estimate by the DOL in this month's edition of pick the noisy number. Most importantly, unlike the entire past two weeks, a good economic print is good for the market, not just a bad economic print.
And the economic (downside) hits keep on coming: PMI, ISM, Non-Mfg ISM, ADP and now Initial claims - five out of five misses as the US economy slowly but surely joins the rest of the world in resuming its downward trajectory. Moments ago initial claims printed a whopping 385K, far above expectations of 353K, and far above the upwardly revised 357K (was 353K before). This was the biggest miss to expectations since November. Also, excluding the Sandy abberations, this was the biggest two week surge in claims since April 2011. Continuing claims also missed, printing at 3063K, above expectations of 3050K. Sure enough, the excuses begin: sequester, Easter (two states estimated which means actual number is likely even worse), weather (unclear if warm or hot), Cyprus, and generally, stuff... Just not the economy. Never the actual economy. Because it is unpossible that with $85 billion inject per month into the market economy, that things would be just getting worse and worse.
Summary of key US events in the week ahead.
With record numbers of people out of the labor force, and hundreds of thousands falling off each month, it is no surprise that the grind lower in initial claims continues - after all there is only so long one can request insurance benefits, now that extended claims are limited. In the week ended March 16, initial claims rose from an upward revised 334K (was 332K and merely the latest in an infinite series of prior upward revisions) to 336K, just below the expected 340K, even as NSA claims declined more to 299K. It would not be surprising that with the current of labor force exodus we get a 100K-handle unadjusted print soon as the pool of eligible workers who collect benefits shrinks to record levels. A tad defensive BLS was quick to note that unlike prior weeks, no states number were estimated. Continuing claims rose also, from an upward revised 3048K to 3053K, above the expected 3050K. Overall a snoozer of a report. The biggest surprise, however, was in the emergency extended benefits, which has continued it abnormally erratic weekly pattern, with this time 136K people falling off, following last week's weekly surge. A tiny 1.8 million Americans are now on extended claims, nearly 1.1 million below the 2.9 million last year. Curious who the people applying for SS disability are? Now you know.
The grind lower in initial jobless claims continues, which from an upwardly revised 342k (was 340K) last week, declined to 332K in the most recent week ended March 9, on expectations of an increase to 350K. This was the third consecutive beat in a row and the lowest total print since January, which in turn takes it all the way back to January 2008. Continuing claims were also better than expected, dropping from an upwardly-revised 3113K, to 3024K, on expectations of a 3090K print. According to the BLS, unlike the last time we had an abnormally low print, no states were estimated this time around.
The quiet overnight session was started by comments from Buba's Weidmann, whose statement, among others, that the ECB will not cut interest rates just to weaken the EUR together with the assertion that the EUR is not seriously overvalued, sent the EURUSD briefly higher in pre-European open trading. Of secondary importance was his "hope" that the ECB will not have to buy bonds (it will once the market gets tired of Draghi open-ended verbal intervention), something he himself admitted when he said the ECB "may be forced to show its hand on OMT." The stronger EUR did not last long, and in a peculiar reversal from prior weeks when the European open led to a spike in the cross, saw the EURUSD dip to three week lows, touching on 1.3310, before modestly rebounding. This validity of the drop was confirmed two hours later when in the first key economic datapoint, it was revealed the Euroearea exports fell 1.8% in December, the most in five months. As SocGen said "the monthly trade data rounded off what has undoubtedly been a pretty dismal quarter for the euro area. Overall euro area exports fell by 1.8% m/m in December although this was offset by a even bigger 3% decline in imports - which itself reflects the weakness of domestic demand in some euro area countries. Maybe of more interest is the latest data on the destination of euro exports. These continue to show a pronounced weakness in global demand (albeit for November). This indicates that weakness in Q4 is not solely a domestic affair but also reflects a wider slowdown in the global economy."
And so the BLS and DOL are back to "seasonal adjustments." Because in a week in which the Sandy effect was supposed to fade, at least on a seasonally adjusted basis, nothing could spoil the party. And sure enough, the headline number dropped from an upward revised (how else) 395,000 to 370,000, well below the expected 380,000. The real story, however, is how the DOL is doing all it can to smooth the noise, because in the week ended December 1, Not Seasonally Adjusted Initial Claims soared by 139,678 - the highest since January, to a whopping 498,619. Compare this to the SA number of 370,000, and one can see why in the aftermath of Sandy, it is quite clear that between hurricane distortions and seasonal adjustments, the headline number is completely meaningless. Confirming this was the surge in Continuing Claims, which ripped from 2,835,671 to 3,301,200, an increase in continuing claims of 465,529, or nearly half a million, in one week! But at least the pre-election boost of those collecting extended claims is over, with those on EUCs down by 110K in one week, thereby ending the extended Uncle Sam handout for over a hundred thousand Americans, who will now be forced to seek solace in disability benefits.
Yesterday's home sales data, which came far better than expected, apparently had nothing to do with Hurricane Sandy (had it been a disappointment the narrative would have been far different). What Hurricane Sandy did have an impact on for the second week in a row, is today's Initial Unemployment Claims, supposedly, which for the second week in a row printed well above 400K, and just as expected, at 410K, "down" from last week's upward (naturally) revised 451K (previously 439K). NSA claims declined from 478.5K to 397.7K, while Continuing Claims were just below expectations at 3,337K on a consensus print of 3,345K, and down from an upward revised 3,367K. Notable is that the dropping trend in those on extended claims, which recently dropped to a multi year low of around 2 million, had reverse, and 60.8K applied for EUCs.
A new week begins. Here are the major global market-moving events to look forward to for both the next week, and for the remainder of October and November.
Market Unhappy With Initial Claims Miss As 1.3 Million People Fall Off Extended Benefits In Past YearSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/23/2012 08:50 -0400
One month of positive economic surprises since the last FOMC may be all we get, now that a "majority" of FOMC members suddenly need a rapid deterioration in economic data to usher in the NEWER, MORE OPEN-ENDED QE. Initial claims was happy to comply: after posting several weeks in a row of "beats", claims has finally resumed "missing", as well as rising, posting an increase from last week's upward revised 368K print to 372K this week, worse than the expected improvement to 365K, and to a one month high. And with continuing claims missing too, the real story continues to be the steep fall off in those on extended benefits and EUC, which declined by a total of 48K in the past week, and down by about half a million in the last few months, and lower by 1.3 million in the past year. This is 1.3 million fewer consumers who can recycle Uncle Sam's dole back into the economy and iGadgets. The question is whether this minimal miss is enough to justify the FOMC doves' fears the much more QE is needed. Judging by the futures reaction to Bullard and claims, the answer is so far no, and in fact points to something very ominous: the closer the Fed (and ECB) come to actually doing something instead of talking about it, the more negative the market reaction seems to be. Woe to Bernanke or Draghi the second they finally have to do something instead of telling listeners to "believe them."
As has now become the norm, last week's initial claims was revised higher (because no algos care about what the real number was with a one week delay) from 361K to 366K (see chart below of cumulative impact when incorporating the next week revision), even as this week saw a modest miss at 366K on expectations of 365K. This "modest" 1K miss will be revised to a 4K miss next week. And while continuing claims also missed expectations by 5K, printing at 3,305K, it was the cliff of extended benefits that continues to bite, with another 64K people no longer collecting Uncle Sam's 99 week free dole in the week ended July 28. This brings the last two weeks' total to nearly 200K: unless this handout was replaced by disability payments, the hit to GDP will be material.
The surprising economic beats, even as Europe and now China slide, continues, following better than expected initial claims, which were released early as someone broke the news embargo, and trade deficit data. In the week ended August 4, 361K people filed initial jobless claims, lower than the upward revised 367K, and below expectations of 370K. This is the 5th week out of 6 in which claims have beat expectations, and heading into the September FOMC meeting, especially in the aftermath of the "blistering" August NFP report, any hope that the Fed will do anything forceful can now be taken off the table. Continuing claims rose by 53K from 3,279K to 3,332K. Adding to the economic tailwind was the June trade deficit, which narrowed by 11% in June, down to $42.9 billion from $48.7 billion, and well below the expected print of $47.5 billion, down on sliding energy prices (back in June - as a reminder crude has soared 20% since then). The reason was a 0.9% rise in exports and 1.5% drop in imports. As Bloomberg observes, "this is likely the last report that shows the narrowing of the deficit this quarter." Finally, perhaps the most notable move that will pass largely unobserved is that in the week ended July 21, a whopping 127K dropped off extended claims, which means no more free $400 weekly checks, and a corresponding hit to iGadget purchases and retail sales.
Still the divergent world views between equity and rates as during the last days.
EGBs better supported. Equities, too…
Spain held so so today, did overshoot 7%, but closed back below. The level itself is just symbolic; we all know…Fact is, Spanish funding is a costly thing.
Credit feeling slightly heavier than equities.