Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dissecting the Economics Headlines $SPY

·         Initial claims for the week ending April 10 increased 24,000 to 484,000, a clear disappointment. Labor Department officials noted that the increase could reflect administrative backlogs as claims from the prior week weren't yet processed. Even so, that's not great news as it implies that the true number of claims filed in the previous week were even higher than reported, and the reported number showed a hefty 18,000 increase from the prior week. Given all this noise, its probably best to look at the four-week moving average, and there the picture is also worrying: the four-week moving average increased to 458,000 last week, up 10,000 over the prior two weeks.  
·         Fed Surveys – The first two regional manufacturing surveys for April, Empire State and Philadelphia Fed surveys, point to continued improvement in business activity. The Empire State survey is sending a strong positive message as the headline index increased to 31.9 in April from 22.9 in March. The ISM-weighted composite there increased from 57.1 to 59.6, the highest level in four years. The Philly fed business conditions index was also up, increasing from 18.9 in March to 20.2 in April and the ISM-weighted composite was up to 53.4 from 52.8 in March.  
·         Industrial production was up a meager 0.1% in March from an upward revised 0.3% in February. But importantly, manufacturing output was up a stronger 0.9% and mining was up 2.3%; utilities plunged 6.4% (weather effects there, no doubt). Within manufacturing, auto production was up 2.2% following an upward revised -3.9% in February and manufacturing ex autos with up 0.8%. A positive note from the report was the monthly increases in almost all the major categories were revised up in February. 

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