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Initial Jobless Claims Jump while Philly Fed Signals Economic Contraction

Initial Jobless Claims Jump while Philly Fed Signals Economic Contraction

Courtesy of Rom Badilla, at Bondsquawk.com

Falling Businessman

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve released its manufacturing survey for August, which suggests economic contraction and may lead the Federal Reserve to promote additional stimulus measures.  The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Outlook survey or simply “Philly Fed” for August plummets to a negative reading of 7.7 versus economists’ surveys of +7.0.  This marks the third consecutive decline after the outlook survey peaked in May at 21.40.

Behind the headlines, components that represent economic growth were especially weak.  Specifically, New Orders dropped further into negative territory to -7.1 from a prior month’s reading of -4.3.  Inventories fell from +4.5 in July to -11.6 while the Number of Employees component dropped from 4.0 to an August reading of -2.7.

Inflation expectations should remain subdued and keep bond yields in check as price pressures fall, judging by some of the Philly Fed components.  Prices Paid dropped from +13.1 in July to +11.8.  In addition, the Prices Received component continues to drive deeper into negative territory.  The Prices Received component fell to -12.5 following prints of -6.5 and -8.4 in June and July, respectively.

The Philadelphia Fed numbers carry significant weight since the index is heavily correlated to the ISM manufacturing index and the index of industrial production, which both measure the health of U.S. economic activity.  ISM Manufacturing should it fall below 50 in the coming months may lead the Federal Reserve to act in providing stimulus measures via Quantitative Easing.

The number of people in the U.S. filing for employment benefits increased last week according to the Department of Labor. Initial Jobless Claims for the week ending August 14 jumped to 500k people.  The number of people who recently became unemployed and are now accessing government benefits was revised upward in the previous week by four thousand to 488k.  The increase, which the highest reading since November of 2009, highlights the beginning of deterioration of the employment landscape in the last few weeks as economists were expecting a reading of 478k.  Furthermore, the 4-week moving average, which is used to smooth out volatility to establish a better reading of trends, continues to inch higher to 482,500 people and is on the higher end of the recent range of 450-500k that has been established since last November.  With this in mind, the number is still associated with further job losses as has been the case in prior recessions as opposed to an average of 400k that coincides more with job creation.

Continuing Claims for the week ending August 7 came in at 4478k versus surveys of 4500k.  The prior period continuing claims figure was revised by 39k to a final figure of 4491k.  Due to the stagnant job market that has persisted for years now and as people exhaust their 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, Continuing Claims should continue to be volatile with a downward bias.

Bond yields continue to head south and defy the bond market non-believers.  The 2-Year is now trading at 0.48 percent, a drop of 2 basis points while the 10-Year is lower by 6 basis points to 2.58 percent.  The stock market is finally starting to realize that the punch bowl is running dry as the S&P 500 falls 1.5 percent to 1076.90. 


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