Thursday, May 12, 2005

Retail Surging, Job Market Still Healthy

- Advance Retail Sales for April rose 1.4% versus estimates of a .7% increase and a .4% gain in March.
- Retail Sales Less Autos for April rose 1.1% versus estimates of a .5% gain and a .2% increase in March.
- Initial Jobless Claims for last week rose to 340K versus estimates of 325K and 336K the prior week.
- Continuing Claims rose to 2598K versus estimates of 2610K and 2583K prior.

Bottom Line: US retail sales increased twice as much as forecast in April as consumers spent more on cars, clothes and restaurant meals. A strong housing market, rising incomes and improving job prospects are giving Americans the means to keep spending even as gas prices take more of their paychecks.

Weekly jobless claims are still averaging about 327,000 this year, down from the 343,000 average during 2004. The four-week moving average of initial jobless claims, a less volatile measure, rose to 324,000 from 322,000. The insured unemployment rate, which is closely correlated to the US employment rate, held at a four-year low of 2%. The four-week moving-average of continuing claims fell to 2.59M, the best since the week that ended March 31, 2001.

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