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Economic Highlights

A big drop in Jobless Claims in the U.S. and weak data out of Europe provide the backdrop for the stock market today. The stock market has reversed most of the recent losses in the last few sessions, with diplomatic developments on the Syria front lowering the odds of U.S. military strikes and steadily improving data out of China raising hopes about that country’s outlook.

The sharp drop in this morning’s Jobless Claims numbers is reportedly due to processing problem, with data from two states reportedly not making into the final figure. As such, the 31K drop in initial claims this morning to 292K, the lowest level for initial claims since 2006, will most likely get revised higher in the coming weeks. The consensus expectation was for a modest rise from the prior week’s 323K level after many weeks of steadily falling claims.

While the August non-farm payroll report was somewhat on the weak side, the overall tone of recent economic readings has been encouraging, raising expectations that the Fed will announce cutbacks to its monthly bond purchases at next week’s FOMC meeting. And judging by the stock market’s strong gains in the last few sessions, investors don’t seem to be overly concerned about the Taper question even though treasury yields have moved up materially over the last few months.

Weak economic data out of the Euro-zone raise questions about the sustainability in the region’s nascent recovery. The fall in industrial production in July comes after positive PMI data from the across the region raised hopes of recovery across the region. The weakness was particularly notable in Germany, even though output fell in France and Italy as well. The region’s economy came out of a recession only in the second quarter and these numbers show a loss of momentum all over again at the start of the current quarter. Today's data doesn't mean that the region is falling back into a recession, but the recovery

In corporate news, Lululemon ((LULU - Analyst Report)) came out with a positive earnings surprise for the quarter, but guided lower. We got a similar report from Men’s Wearhouse ((MW - Snapshot Report)) as well, with the company lowering its outlook for the year.

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