Thursday, May 19, 2005

Job Market Still Healthy, Leading Indicators Fall Modestly

- Initial Jobless Claims for last week fell to 321K versus estimates of 330K and 341K the prior week.
- Continuing Claims rose to 2601K versus estimates of 2583K and 2596K prior.
- Leading Indicators for April fell .2% versus estimates of a .2% decline and a .6% fall in March.

BOTTOM LINE: New claims have averaged about 325,000 in the first four months of the year, down from 350,000 a year ago. The four-week moving-average of claims increased to 329,750 from 324,250 the prior week. The four-week moving-average of continuing claims dropped to 2.58M, a four-year low. The insured unemployment rate, which tends to move with the US unemployment rate, held at a four-year low of 2.0%.

The Leading Economic Indicators Index fell for a fourth straight month in April as high gas prices weighed on consumer sentiment. March’s number was revised down to a .6% decline, the largest decrease since September 20001. Strong job growth, healthy retail sales, booming home sales, low interest rates and a smaller trade deficit should keep growth from slowing too much. As well, declining energy prices this month should help boost confidence among consumers and corporations going forward.

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