A bit of a mixed bag on the data front. This morning’s big news came from jobless claims and retail sales. Jobless claims came in better than expected at 565K. Analysts had been expecting 610K. The data, however, appears to have benefited greatly from the timing of Auto layoffs:
“Citing a Labor Department analyst, Market News International says the latest week benefited from a shift in the timing of auto layoffs and other layoffs in the manufacturing sector, layoffs that have already happened. Note that seasonal adjustments are fixed at the beginning of the year and are not adjusted to reflect current events, here of course the bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler.”
On the negative side, continuing claims jumped again to 6.883MM. All in all the report is fairly mixed. There is no doubt that it’s a positive to see new claims dropping, but it’s difficult to shed 565K claims as a positive. That is just an astounding figure this long into a recession.
Retail sales were very disappointing this morning. This is a continued trend from the data we’ve been seeing weekly in the Redbook and ICSC figures. The weakness was notable at big box retailers where declines ranged from -6% at Target to -9% at Macy’s. Consumers are still suffering.