Initial Jobless Claims totaled 469k which is about in line with expectations and down from last week’s spike to 498k. Because of the bad snow storms and disruption that resulted in the data, its best to average these weeks in order to get a better handle on the trend. The 4 week average is now 471k vs 474k last week but above 470k for a 2nd straight week for only the first time since late Nov/early Dec. Continuing Claims fell by 134k and were 100k below expectations but Extended Benefits rose by a net 197k. Thus, there is still very little evidence in this weekly, timely data, of any big pickup in hiring outside of some modest improvement. Tomorrow’s Feb Payroll figure will also be impacted by the weather.
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