Market Overview

Initial Jobless Claims: Labor Market Continues to Struggle

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In its weekly report, the U.S. Department of Labor said, for the week ending June 23, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 386,000. This reading was higher than the consensus estimate of 385,000, but decreased 6,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 392,000.

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 a recovering economy.

Thursday, the initial jobless claims' four-week moving average was 386,750, decreasing 750 from the previous week's revised average of 387,500.

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 June 16, was 3,296,000. This number was worse than the consensus estimate of 3,280,000, but decreased from the preceding week's revised level of 3,311,000.

The four-week moving average for continuing jobless claims increased by 9,250 on Thursday. The average moved to 3,306,000 from the preceding week's revised average of 3,296,750.

U.S. equity futures were basically unchanged after the 8:30 a.m. ET release. During Thursday's regular trading hours, the Dow Jones Industrial Index traded around 72 points lower.

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.
  • Also, 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) because, even if fewer people remain in the workforce, consumers still need to buy staple products like shampoo and toothpaste.
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