A quiet day on the economic data front still produced the regular Weekly Jobless Claims Report, but we might have preferred the Labor Department skip the release. After all, it only offers the same story week after week, month after month... Charlie Rangel is still trying to cut a deal, but the charges against him have been read by the House Ethic Panel. The day also produced the EIA's Natural Gas Inventory data and a slew of earnings reports. Catch our summary below.
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Thursday's coffee covers the two regular economic reports and more. Weekly Jobless Claims continue around the 450K mark, where they have hovered for as long as we can remember. The month's Labor Market data to-date portends trouble for next week's Employment Situation Report.
Weekly Jobless Claims
The Department of Labor's Weekly Jobless Claims report was published at 8:30 this morning. The data covering the period ended July 24 showed claims at 457K, down 11,000 from last week's count of 468K (revised from 464K). Economists were looking for a reading of 460K, but they never stray too far from the prior week's result. And for good reason!
Weekly Jobless Claims have not strayed far from this level for what seems like forever now. You can see evidence of this in the four-week moving average, which only fell 4,500 to 452,500. We caught a guru on Bloomberg Radio saying 300K would be normal for a growing economy. So, we put a call in to the Department of Labor after hours, and were told to call back tomorrow. Look for an update to this article Friday with some information about what a normal unemployment line looks like.
The coming week offers the Monthly Employment Situation Report. Last month's data had the unemployment rate falling to 9.5%, however, nonfarm payrolls decreased by 125K. As census jobs disappear, and as more folks hit the unemployment line, we think there's a good chance the rate will increase in July. The economists' consensus is not yet available at Bloomberg.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate increased to 3.6% for the reported July 17 period. An apropos topic these days given the debate over unemployment benefit extensions, they were available in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin during the week ending July 10.
The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending July 10 were in Puerto Rico (6.9 percent), Pennsylvania (5.1), Oregon (5.0), New Jersey (4.8), Nevada (4.6), Wisconsin (4.6), California (4.5), Connecticut (4.5), Massachusetts (4.5), and Alaska (4.4).
The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending July 17 were in California (+19,809), South Carolina (+5,115), North Carolina (+4,512), Illinois (+3,183), and Tennessee (+3,066), while the largest decreases were in New York (-19,552), Indiana (-5,146), Michigan (-4,491), Pennsylvania (-3,390), and Florida (-2,138).
Natural Gas Inventory
The EIA reported on Natural Gas stores Thursday. The report for the period ended July 23 showed natural gas inventory increased by 28 Bcf. At the latest level, natural gas storage stood 239 Bcf above the 5-year average mark for this time of year. This latest difference is less than the week before, and inventory was 94 Bcf less than last year. We expect extreme high temperatures for July have increased air conditioner and electricity usage, which is partly powered by natural gas fueled power plants. We expect to see more pressure on nat gas inventory alongside pricing. Coming off a spike in June, prices seem to us on a rising trend since mid-March.
Rangel Cutting a Deal?
Must-see TV was nearly canceled today, as Charlie Rangel almost cut a deal keeping him from appearing before the House Ethics Panel for charges against him. The charges have been read, but word is that Rangel still hopes to avoid the trial by cutting some sort of a deal. Whatever the case, significant damage has been done to Rangel's political career.
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