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Before the market open, U.S. S&P 500 futures were pointed down on Thursday, as investors may take a breather after another record day for U.S. stock markets.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported before the open on Thursday that the number of people who applied for regular state unemployment-insurance benefits ticked down 4,000 to 323,000 in the week ending May 4, hitting a fresh low.

A new, low level.  The lowest since January 2008.

Investor expectations for initial unemployment claims for regular state unemployment-insurance benefits had risen slightly this week to 335,000.  Last week, the actual claims number came in at 324,000; the previous lowest level since January 2008. Forecasters believed the new claims report would reflect softer, more recent labor-market driven data.

Other fresh claims data was also supportive:

·         The four-week average of new jobless claims fell 6,250 to 336,750, hitting the lowest level since November 2007, near the start of the recession.

·         Continuing claims for jobless benefits dropped 27,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.01 million in the week ended April 27, reaching the lowest level since May 2008.

·         The four-week average of these claims from people already receiving benefits fell 24,500 to 3.03 million, the lowest since June 2008.

This is clearly good news for U.S. stocks.  The relationship between the level of unemployment claims and the level of stocks is very clearly drawn.  That means the markets have more fundamental support for their ongoing rise.

What do you think?  Will markets close at a fresh high today and for this week?

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