In April, the US non-manufacturing ISM disappointed. The headline index dropped from 56.0 to 53.5, while only a slight decline was expected. The details show a more mixed picture. The important sub-indices as business activity (54.6 from 58.9), new orders (53.5 from 58.8) and employment (54.2 from 56.7) weakened significantly, while new export orders (58.0 from 52.5), backlog of orders (53.0 from 49.5), supplier deliveries (51.5 from 49.5), inventory sentiment (61.0 from 58.5), and imports (56.5 from 56.0) improved. Cost pressures eased sharply in April as prices paid fell from 63.9 to 53.6. While the headline figure looks disappointing, the details are more mixed, suggesting that the momentum is slowing somewhat. We believe however that there is no reason to worry as the details are more mixed.
In the week ended the 28th of April, US initial jobless claims finally dropped lower. Initial claims dropped by 27 000, from an upwardly revised 392 000 to 365 000, while the consensus was looking for a more moderate decline (to 379 000). The Labour Department added that there was nothing unusual in the data. The less volatile four-week moving average rose from 382 750 to 383 500. Initial jobless claims are now again at the lowest level since the end of March. Continuing claims, which are reported with an extra week lag, surprised on the downside too, falling from 3 329 000 to 3 276 000. We believe that the upswing in claims over the previous weeks was probably related to distortions due to the Easter Holidays. It is an encouraging sign that claims are hovering again towards the levels seen earlier this year, which were the lowest levels in almost four years. Recently, there was some uncertainty regarding the labour market situation in the US after the disappointing payrolls report and upswing in claims. Will the payrolls today ease those concerns further?