Market Overview

Jobless Claims Jump Unexpectedly


In its weekly report, the U.S. Department of Labor said for the week ending July 14 that the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 386,000. This reading was worse than the consensus estimate of 365,000 and increased 34,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 352,000.

Initial jobless claims data measure the number of individuals filing for jobless benefits for the first time during the previous week. A lower-than-expected reading is typically a positive signal about the U.S. job market, as more people remain employed.

When emerging unemployment is low and less than expected, it indicates a relatively healthy or recovering economy.

Thursday, the initial jobless claims' four-week moving average was 375,500, decreasing 1,500 from the previous week's revised average of 377,000.

Continuing jobless claims measure the number of unemployed individuals who continue to be eligible for unemployment benefits.

The U.S. Department of Labor said the advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment, during the week ending July 7, was 3,314,000. This number was worse than the consensus estimate of 3,304,000, and increased 1,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 3,313,000.

The four-week moving average for continuing jobless claims also increased 1,000 on Thursday. The average moved to 3,311,750 from the preceding week's revised average of 3,310,750.

U.S. equity futures were slightly lower immediately after the 8:30 a.m. ET release.

ACTION ITEMS: Traders who believe that Thursday's jobless claims readings are a leading indicator for the U.S. economy might want to consider the following trades:
  • Short general retail companies like JCPenney (NYSE: JCP) because, as more individuals leave the workforce, people likely will spend less of their residual income.
  • Short consumer discretionary companies like Target (NYSE: TGT) or the Consumer Discretionary ETF (NYSE: XLY).
  • Long consumer staple companies like Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) and Colgate (NYSE: CL).
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