The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits dropped to 216,000 last week, below expectations. The data indicates ongoing strength in the labor market despite a pronounced slowdown in job growth in May.
- Initial jobless claims came in at 216,000 for the week ended June 15, down 6,000 and 4,000 below the market expectation.
- The drop in claims followed three straight weekly increases – data for the previous week was unrevised and no states were estimated.
The four-week moving average of claims, a less-volatile metric, rose 1,000 to 218,750 last week. Last week’s survey covered the period for nonfarm payrolls in June’s employment report, and the four-week average saw little change between the May and June survey periods.
Continued claims after an initial week of aid dropped 37,000 to 1.66 million for the week ended June 8, and the four-week moving average of these claims dropped 5,250 to 1.68 million.
After strong growth last year, job growth is cooling. The Atlanta Fed forecasts Q2 GDP growth at around 2% compared to 3.1% in the previous quarter, and this growth was likely spurred on by a temporary rise in exports due to the trade war.
Lowest FedFunds and
Lowest wkly jobless claims
and safe to say highest Fed balance sheet
to start a new easing cycle pic.twitter.com/OrLSxFNaCD
— G Stockus (@beatlesonbankin) June 20, 2019
Trade War Concerns
Claims, a lead indicator for layoffs, are being closely monitored throughout the escalating trade war negotiations between the US and China. The trade war has been a source of concern and uncertainty in the markets since its inception, and the Federal Reserve recently indicated that it was prepared to cut interest rates in order to mitigate the economic headwinds being created. Rates could be cut by up to half a percentage point, although the central bank elected to keep rates unchanged for now at a meeting on Wednesday.
Fed Chair Jerome Powell stated that the lackluster May jobs growth was also a factor in the policy discussions, although added that “many labor market indicators remain strong.”
Gold prices have seen strong upward momentum today, with spot gold currently holding near a 5-year high at $1,384.56/oz, up 2.97% with a high of $1,386.16/oz and a low of $1,344.78/oz. The price action has likely been influenced by Fed statements indicating a dovish outlook as well as poor reports from the manufacturing industry with the Philly Fed survey turning in a near-zero reading.