Mission Accomplished it would seem. Initial claims printed at its lowest since January 2008 at 324k. This is well below expectations of 345k - the biggest beat since September 2011. California and New York dominated the data with over 70,000 claims between them (though both dropped from last week). Michigan added the most from last month's rolls with 'educational service indutrsy' job losses affecting MA, CT, and RI. Emergency Unemployment Claims appears to have shaken off its statistical aberration of 2013 and is down a modest 12k this week.
Sterling is has eclipsed the yen as the main focus in the foreign exchange market. The surprising news that has kicked it to fresh multi-month low was that the BOE is closer to easing policy than has been suspected. While it was a unanimous decision to leave rates on hold as expected, it was a tighter 6-3 vote on new asset purchases.
The market had expected a 8-1 vote. Of particular interest, it is the fourth time Governor King has been outvoted.
As is the case every Thursday, the BLS reported its weekly initial claims which unlike two weeks ago did not estimate the initial unemployment claims for America's most populous state when the number plunged, and has now missed expectations for two weeks in a row, printing at 366K, on expectations of a 360K number, while last week's 368K was as usual revised upward to 371K. As a result, the Mainspin Media already has its headline: Initial Claims decline by 5,000. Such is life under the US Department of Truth, even as unadjusted initial claims spiked by 16.7K to 386K in the week ended February 2. In other news, people on Extended Unemployment Comp plunged by 288K after soaring in the week prior, and making some wonder just what is going on with the EUC 2008 data series for it to get such massive weekly shifts each week.
The market has been rallying over the last few weeks as the bulls have definitely taken charge in the New Year. Most of the recent analysis has pointed to signs of an improving economy and stronger employment as the driving force behind the advance. My view has clearly been that it has been the impact of the Fed's liquidity injections pushing asset prices higher. There is one caveat here. Last winter was the warmest winter on record in 65 years which skewed much of the seasonal data by allowing work to continue when normally workers would have been shut in due to inclement weather. We are seeing the exact same anomalies occur this year as the winter is currently the warmest in the last 55 years combined, and when combined with lower energy prices, is giving a temporary boost to incomes. As we witnessed in 2012 - when the seasonal adjustments come back into alignment in the spring the drop off in reported economic activity will be fairly severe.
Update: the BLS disclosed that it had to estimate the data for 19 states due to holiday office closures. Good enough for Ministry of Truth work.
In what is a traditional slowdown to the layoffs season in the week leading into Christmas, initial unemployment claims, dropped from an upward revised 362K (was 361K) to 350K, below a consensus print of 360K, and the lowest seasonally-adjusted number in nearly 5 years. The boost, of course, was all in the ARIMA X-12 seasonal adjustments, as the not seasonally adjusted number rose by 39K to 441K. Although in a world in which only Case-Shiller says to use its Non-Seasonally Adjusted print as a far more accurate indicator of concurrent data, nobody cares about the BLS pre-adjustment data. In fact, judging by the market response, nobody cares about BLS data anymore, period, with absolutely no response by the market following the Claims print. Perhaps the only realm, unfudged notable number was the jump in people claiming claims at the State level, which soared by 71K in the week ending December 8, to a 3.238MM total. This happened even the surge of those collecting EUCs finally ended, with just 4K new collectors of EUCs and Extended Benefits. The good news is that at least nothing is Sandy's fault, at least this week.
The economic data dump trifecta has been released, with updates on claims, retail sales and PPI. The end result was a nearly even beat/miss split.
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.
You've probably noticed the cookie-cutter format of most financial media "news": a few key "buzz words" (fiscal cliff, Bush tax cuts, etc.) are inserted into conventional contexts, and this is passed off as either "reporting" or "commentary" depending on the number of pundits sourced. Correspondent Frank M. kindly passed along a template that is "officially deny its existence" secret within the mainstream media. With this template, you could launch your own financial media channel, ready to compete with the big boys. Heck, you could hire some cheap overseas labor to make a few Skype calls to "the usual suspects," for-hire academics, hedge fund gurus, etc. and actually attribute the fluff to a real person.
California Demands Business Insider Retract False Story On Jobless Claims Misreporting; Business Insider RefusesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/12/2012 09:24 -0400
After yesterday Zero Hedge first reported the reason for the surprising plunge in the past week's initial claims, which as the BLS explained was due to "a state" (whose identity despite all tabloid speculation to the contrary is still unknown) not reporting "some" figures, assorted blogs picked up on what has since been confirmed to be an incorrect report by Business Insider's Henry Blodget claiming that "Well, we're glad to say that we've finally gotten to the bottom of what happened" and that the state in question is none other than California (supposedly as opposed to Illinois to shut up those wacky conspiracy theorists). Turns out the site known best for its slideshow presentations (which will soon double down as advertisements) may have once again fibbed just a little, following an official demand by none other than California state Employment Development Department direct, Pam Harris, that BI retract its article. To wit: "Reports that California failed to fully report data to the U.S. Department of Labor, as required, are incorrect and irresponsible... It’s unfortunate this ‘reporter’ and others who repeated the article’s erroneous statements chose to speculate rather than report, failing to confirm this information with EDD." Sure enough, the 'reporter' in question replied, and it appears that Business Insider is better informed than California when it comes to matters such as these, and has refused to retract.
BS At The BLS Leads To Profitable Short Opportunities As Hopium Smokers Get High Off Of Depreciated Dime Bags Of Manipulated EupSubmitted by Reggie Middleton on 08/06/2012 09:12 -0400
#333333; font-family: 'lucida grande', tahoma, verdana, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 17px;">Rosy econ data + low valuations in markets + cure to European debt crisis, Abercromie & Fitch, Aeropostale, etc. a screaming buy?
China has proposed to broaden trading of precious metals in its local market in order to help China become a "major gold trading centre" (see News). The Wall Street Journal was briefed about China's plans by "a person involved with the matter." The paper reports that "the move could increase liquidity and help Beijing gain stronger pricing power for key commodities like gold". China is the largest consumer and now the largest producer of gold in the world and has aspirations to become a major gold trading center on a par with London and New York. China is also the fifth largest holder of gold reserves in the world after the U.S., Germany, France, Italy. Chinese officials have spoken of China’s aspirations to have gold reserves as large as the U.S. in order to help position the yuan or renminbi as a global reserve currency. Indeed, it would be only natural for China to aspire to have their currency become the global reserve currency in the long term. In the longer term, being a major gold trading center would make China a more powerful financial and economic player and indeed could allow them to influence commodity and other important market prices. Indeed, Reuters reported that becoming a major gold trading center "would boost the country's clout in setting global prices".
With West Texas Intermediate crude oil trading with an $80 handle, near two year lows, while stocks remain within a few percent of their four-year highs, one has to question just what it is that stocks believe about our bright new future of growth and demand that the all-important energy markets do not. Between Europe's recession, last night's dismal China PMI, and a significantly trending rise in US unemployment claims, it seems more likely that the global demand picture painted by the oil market is a better reflection of reality than the earnings/multiple picture painted by the nominal price of US equities. We know that bad is good when it comes to the front-running of Bernanke's print button but wouldn't bad being good raise the USD-nominal price of oil also?
Employment lukewarm, inflation kind of hot.
Those hoping Goldman's NFP forecast of 125,000, well below consensus, is wrong, may have to reassess their thesis following the just released ADP number which came as a big disappointment to consensus of 170,000, instead printing at only +119,000, to 110,590. (The previous improvement was also downward revised from +209K to +201K). This was the lowest sequential change since September 2011, and confirms once again, the declining trends last seen in... 2011. It was also the biggest miss in 11 months. Luckily, as the scatterplot below shows, ADP is completely meaningless when predicting NFP so our gut reaction would be to expect a beat in NFP based on this print considering the whole Schrodinger economy and what not (see China). However, on an apples to apples basis, one thing is certain: record warm winter payback is a bitch. And finally, that whole Obama export renaissance is not doing all too hot: goods producing sector: -4,000 in April, while manufacturing jobs declined by -5,000. But, but, the soaring ISM..... oh forget it.
It must be difficult for the BRICS countries today. On one hand, they continue to jockey for respect among the Western powers, insisting on participating in quasi-European bailout funds like the IMF. On the other hand, they are also clearly aware of the Western nations' continuing efforts to surreptitiously devalue their domestic currencies, and the pernicious effect that has had on them as exporters and as lenders of capital. In that vein, it was interesting to note that during the latest BRICS Summit held this past March in New Delhi, the main topic of discussion centered on the creation of the group's first official institution, a so-called "BRICS Bank" that would fund development projects and infrastructure in developing nations. Although not openly discussed, reports suggest what they were really talking about was creating a type of BRICS central bank - an institution that could facilitate their ability to "do more business with each other in their local currencies, to help insulate from U.S. dollar fluctuations…" Given the incredible scale of western central bank intervention over the past six months, the BRICS' increasing frustration with their printing efforts should be a given by now. The real question is what they're doing about it, and what assets they're accumulating to protect themselves from the inevitable, which brings us to gold.