As if the heart of Q1 earnings season wasn’t informative enough, before Thursday’s opening bell we also see economic headline reads hitting the doorstep — in bulk. Durable Goods Orders, Core Capital Equipment, Advanced Trade in Goods and, of course, weekly Initial Jobless Claims numbers are all out right now, and we await impact of these figures on regular-day trading today.
Jobless Claims once again ratcheted down far below our years-long range between 225K-250K, which itself is indicative of a robust domestic labor market. But this morning’s 209K is the lowest read we’ve seen since 1969, the year Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon. This marks a precipitous drop of 24K claims from the slightly revised 233K the previous week.
Continuing claims also recede to historic lows, last week reaching 1.837 million from the previous read of 1.866 million, also a very low number. In fact, we haven’t seen continuing claims get anywhere near 2 million for a week since last summer’s dual hurricanes hit the mainland. U.S. employment continues to amaze and astound.
Durable Goods came in a tick higher than expected at 2.6% for March, from a strong upward revision from 3.0% to 3.5% for February. However, strip out Transportation costs and that March number plummets to 0%, with non-defense, ex-aircraft actually going negative to -0.1%. Core Capital Equipment Orders sank from a healthy 1.4% in February to 0.9% in March, with the shipments vs. orders ratio at -0.7%. So it would appear new airplane orders had completely covered this economic metric last month.
The U.S. Trade Balance surprised to the upside in March to -$68 billion, lower than the -$73.4 billion analysts had been expecting and a revised -$75.9 billion in February. This is relative good news — certainly better than we’d seen earlier in the year — although it’s tough to get excited about a deficit of $68 billion.
After the closing bell today, we expect quarterly earnings results from Amazon (AMZN - Free Report) , Intel (INTC - Free Report) and Expedia (EXPE - Free Report) , among others. But ahead of today’s open, there is such a huge amount of earnings reports hitting the tape that we’re going to keep it to just a few of the Zacks Rank Buy and Sell stocks this morning:
Zacks Rank #2 (Buy)-rated CME Group (CME - Free Report) topped earnings estimates by a penny to $1.86 per share, on quarterly revenues that narrowly missed our $1.12 billion Zacks consensus. Revenues were still up 19% year over year, and the company booked an all-time record 22.2 million orders in the quarter. For more on CME’s earnings, click here.
Chicagoland MedTech major Baxter International (BAX - Free Report) , also a Zacks Rank #2 stock, beat on the bottom line by nearly 13% to 70 cents per share, on $2.68 billion in revenues that surpassed the $2.62 billion expected. Baxter’s Q1 strength was in its core Renal Care segment, up 4% year over year. The company also raised full-year guidance. For more on BAX’s earnings, click here.
Zacks Rank #4 (Sell)-based Southwest Airlines (LUV - Free Report) managed to meet bottom-line estimates of 75 cents per share, though its $4.94 billion in quarterly sales missed the projected $5.02 billion. PRASM — a key airline metric — fell 1% in Q1, and guidance for PRASM in Q2 is down another 1-3%. For more on LUV’s earnings, click here.
Finally, The Hershey Company (HSY - Free Report) , a Zacks Rank #4 ahead of its Q1 earnings report, also met estimates at $1.41 per share, while topping revenue expectations by posting $1.97 billion, compared with the Zacks consensus of $1.94 billion. Hershey’s trailing 4 quarters show an average earnings beat of roughly 6%. For more on HSY’s earnings, click here.