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US initial claims plunge, as do import prices

US initial claims plunge, as do import prices

13.7.2012 9:01

Initial claims fell a much bigger than expected 26 000 to 350 000, while the consensus estimate was for a modest decline to 370 000. The main factor for the surprise was that fewer carmakers shut their factories for the new model retooling than usual. A BLS spokesman said that this distortion will be unwound over the coming weeks, when carmakers will hire less people than usual when they restart production.

The less volatile 4-week average fell to 376 500 from 386 250 last week, the lowest figure since May 6 week. The continuing claims which are reported with one week lag dropped a modest 14 000 to 3 304 000.

Given the specific (seasonal) nature of the decline, one shouldn’t draw much conclusions from the report for the overall situation on the labour market.

Import prices declined a much steeper than expected 2.7% M/M in June, the sharpest monthly decline since 2008, to drop 2.6% Y/Y. It compares to a 1.2% M/M and a 0.5% Y/Y decline in May. It was mostly an energy-related result, as import prices excluding fuel fell a more modest 0.3% M/M. Besides the energy prices also the stronger dollar dampened overall import prices.

The decline is good news for the economy, firms and households. The latter will have to pay less for energy, which will allow them to spend more on (also) domestic produced other goods and on services, supporting the key consumption spending that originates about 70% of GDP. The steep decline of import prices puts the risks for PPI prices on the downside of expectations.

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