Back to normal–and the market gets earnings news to worry about

Back to normal. The United States won’t default. The federal government is open again—including the Panda cam at the National Zoo. And once again earnings count. Which at least for the day isn’t good news for U.S. stocks—at least not for the Dow Jones Industrials. I think we’re seeing three themes that are likely to be major drivers of the U.S. market as we move through the meat of earnings season

Drop in initial claims for unemployment not as good as it seems

This morning the Labor Department announced that new applications for unemployment fell by 37,000 to 335,000 in the week ended January 12. That’s the lowest number since initial claims in the week ended January 19, 2008. Unfortunately, as a spokesman for the Bureau of Labor Statistics explained when the data was released, the improvement is likely to be a result of problems in adjusting the data for seasonal effects.