Initial Jobless Claims totaled 367k, 1k less than expected but last week was revised up by 3k to 368k. It is the 2nd week below 370k after 3 straight weeks above 380k. The 4 week average fell to 379k from 384k. Continuing Claims fell by 61k and Extended Benefits were down by 40k. Bottom line, whether weather give back or Good Friday holiday distorting the seasonals in the first 3 weeks of April, Claims are back near the lower trend seen in March in the 360k’s range and compares with the one year average of 393k. This reduced pace of firing’s is encouraging to see but we know the level of hiring’s has been mediocre. Elsewhere, the March Trade Deficit was $1.8b higher than expected at $51.8b but because this was partially offset by a downward revision in Feb, the GDP revision for Q1 shouldn’t amount too much right now. Positively, Exports rose 2.9% to a record high of $187b but was offset by a 5.2% rise in imports, also to a record high led by petroleum imports. April Import Prices were down .5%, more than expected and driven by a decline in oil prices. Ex this, prices were up .1% m/o/m. Surprisingly and unlikely to last, import prices fell .3% m/o/m from China.
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