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Data Deluge

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Another historically impressive account on Initial Jobless Claims has crossed the tape ahead of today’s opening bell, with a mere 204K initial claims down 1000 last week from (an upwardly revised) 205K the previous week. This points to a stellar U.S. labor force currently — one we haven’t seen since Elvis Presley was still fitting tight leather suits, 1969.

Continuing Claims also slid beneath 1.7 million for the first time since Elvis was donning white jumpsuits in Hawaii and Vegas, 1973. Claims of 1.696 million longer-term unemployed is an astonishingly low number; 100 weeks ago, we were still considering 2 million the floor of continuing claims.

Consequently, the 4-Quarter Average for weekly jobless claims is at 208K — not only strongly within the latest leg-down of 200-225K, but pretty clearly headed for sub-200K at some point in the future. This is a trajectory analysts have been tracking throughout the claw-back from the Great Recession that began almost exactly a decade ago, when the goal toward economic recovery included weekly reads of sub-300K claims. To paraphrase an old cigarette ad, “We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby.”

In the near term, however, we can expect some disruption to this overall trajectory. Hurricane Florence, currently losing steam off the Carolina coast, promises to dump massive amounts of ocean and storm water on the low coastal lands of the region. Aggressive development in the area over the past 20 years or so have led analysts to post estimates of perhaps losses of $170 billion as a result of the storm. Along with evacuees keeping the region dormant of economic activity, plenty of business is expected to be lost.

That said, following last year’s storms that struck Texas and Florida, those hits to weekly jobs numbers proved to be temporary. So much so that we’re now at near 50-year lows in these claims figures. A spike up over the next week or month should not deter us from continuing to invest according to a very strong labor environment.

The Kroger Company (KR - Free Report) , owner and manager of a string of supermarket chains, outperformed expectations in its fiscal Q2 earnings report this morning. Revenues of $27.87 billion in the quarter marginally topped estimates as well. However, same-store sales came up short, which has led to a nearly 8% sell-off in shares during today’s pre-market. For more on KR’s earnings, click here.

And, after the closing bell yesterday, Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank parent Tailored Brands (TLRD - Free Report)  met estimates of $1.07 for its fiscal Q2 earnings. But the overall report proved to be mixed, as revenues in the quarter came in shy of the Zacks consensus to $823.43 million. The stock sold off in the immediate aftermath of the company’s release, but has come roaring back in today’s pre-market, up nearly 13% ahead of the opening bell. For more on TLRD’s earnings, click here.

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