Initial jobless claims in regular state unemployment programs declined–on an adjusted basis–by 26,000 to 900,000 for the week ended January 16, the Labor Department announced today, January 21. On an unadjusted basis, initial claims for unemployment dropped by more than 151,000 to 960,668. Continuing claims in state programs–the number of people receiving ongoing jobless benefits–decreased by 127,000 to 5.05 million in the week ended January 9. In the week ended January 2 there were 3.03 million continuing claims for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which provides federal extended jobless benefits for those who have exhausted their regular state benefits
Today the Standard & Poor’s 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and the NASDAQ Composite all hit record highs. Likely cause? The peaceful inauguration of Joe Biden as President? Yesterday’s report of blow out gains in subscribers in the fourth quarter from Netflix (NFLX)? While the sigh of relief that the country wasn’t enveloped in another wave of violence at the 46th President took the oath of office certainly played a role, my vote on causation today goes to yesterday’s news from Netflix that the company added 8.5 million subscribers in the fourth quarter, far ahead of Wall Street projections for 6.03 million added subscribers. Netflix shares closed up 16.85% today.
China reports 6.5% GDP growth in the fourth quarter; economy looks primed to be driver of global economy in 2021
Economists surveyed by Bloomberg were expecting that China would report 6.2% GDP growth for the fourth quarter of 2020. Instead the government announced that China’s economy grew by 6.5% in the quarter. That pushed GDP growth for 2020 to 2.3% for the full 2020 year instead of the 2.1% forecast by economists.
The present–or more precisely the very recent past–didn’t look so good this morning, January 15. U.S. retail sales declined by 0.7% in December and the Commerce Department revised November to a drop of 1.4%. The unadjusted blue of sales rose by just 0.6% year over year in 2020. That’s the smallest gain in 11 years. Nobody expected the December retail sales numbers to be anything other than grim, however, and by themselves these figures wouldn’t have been enough to dent stock prices. The market has a strong recent history of looking past any negative news in the present because with the roll out of coronavirus vaccines with future looks so promising. But the future also disappointed today.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits through regular state programs climbed to 1.15 million on an unadjusted basis for the week ended January 9. On a seasonally adjusted basis claims rose to 965,000, an increase of 181,000 in the week. Add 284,000 new claims filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, an emergency federal program for freelancers, part-time workers and others normally ineligible for state jobless benefits. It was the first week since July in which the unadjusted number of new state claims exceeded one million.
Today, January 13, China recorded the highest one-day case total in more than five months, according to the country’s National Health Commission. Most of the new patients recorded in Tuesday’s figures were near the capital, Beijing, but a province in north-east China also saw a rise in new cases.
For a day, at least, the seemingly inexorable climb in Treasury yields stopped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which is up 23 basis points in the last month, dropped back to 1.13%, a retreat of 2 basis points.
At the close today the Standard & Poor’s 500 was off 0.66%. The Dow Jones industrial Average was lower by 0.29%. The NASDAQ Composite had fallen 1.255 and the NASDAQ 100 had dropped 1.55%. The small cap Russell 2000 was down just 0.03%. The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM) finished with a loss of 1.33%. As you might conclude from those results from the indexes, the big culprit in today’s retreat was technology, especially big technology stocks.
The U.S. economy shed 140,000 jobs in December. That’s the first monthly job loss in eight months. Economists had expected the economy to pick up a very modest 50,000 jobs in the month. The official unemployment rate held at 6.7%.
Initial claims for unemployment in regular state programs fell to 787,000 for the week ended on January 2. Economists were looking for 800,000 initial claims. New claims for the prior week were revised lower to 790,000. To keep the “improvement” in context, the worst week in the Great Recession saw new claims at 655,000.
The stock market rally that started so strong this morning as Democrats, surprisingly, rode to victory in both Georgia Senate races, took a big step backwards as the day wore on with scenes of rioters roaming the hall of Congress in an effort to overturn the November election.But the early action gives me a good idea of the thinking of investors and traders as they contemplate not just a Biden Presidency, but Democratic control of both chambers of Congress and the White House. This morning investors and traders were looking to get out in front of a Biden administration agenda
After saying on December 31 that it would delist China’s three major telecoms operators, the New York Stock Exchange announced yesterday, Monday January 4, that it wouldn’t delist the stocks. The initial decision to delist shares of China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom was in response to the Trump administration’s move to bar investment in companies deemed to supply and support China’s military, intelligence, and security services. 35 Chinese companies are on the current Trump administration blacklist including telecom equipment maker Huawei and China’s major chipmaker SMIC.