Initial Jobless Claims this Thursday morning were once again historically low — in fact, the headline read came in exactly the same as last week’s 214K. Revisions had brought the previous week’s total up to 215K, but we are right back in the middle of the 200-225K range of new claims. Continuing Claims continue to fall, from an already-minuscule 1.631 million the previous week to 1.623 last week.
In both cases, we remain at about half-century lows in weekly jobless data, consistent with last week’s stellar jobs reports from ADP and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of all the things propelling this years-long bull market, the robust employment picture continues as perhaps the main catalyst. It has thus lifted consumer confidence measures, which is very important here in Q4 (aka holiday season).
The Fed meets for a second day today, but will end its gathering without following it up with a news conference (although from this point forward all Fed meeting will end with a presser, likely with Fed Chair Jerome Powell). It is thus considered extremely unlikely we’ll see a new interest rate hike — although it is certainly within the Federal Reserve’s discretion to make one — at least until the December meeting, at which point expectations are high we will see another 25 basis points tacked onto interest rates, to a 2.25-2.50% range.
Market futures are slightly in the red after a huge relief rally Wednesday, turning charts for calendar 2018 appearing as if October was the main sell-off period. We still have a ways to go before we reach late-January highs for most stocks on the S&P 500, but if the relief rally successfully morphs into a holiday season buying spree for the markets, we may see a late-year surge now that the midterm elections are behind us.
After the closing bell this afternoon, we expect earnings results for The Walt Disney Company (DIS - Free Report) , among others. Earnings season hits its final leg next week with the ushering in of fiscal Q4 retail quarterly performances. This morning, we also hear from these companies, also reporting fiscal Q4 results:
Homebuilder D.R. Horton (DHI - Free Report) released a mixed report, beating estimates by a penny to $1.23 per share on the bottom line while coming up 2% short of expectations on the top line to $4.49 billion in quarterly sales. As much as we’ve seen the robust labor market grind the bull case forward, its main laggard has lately been in the homes industry. The company has already traded down 26% year to date, and has dropped an additional 6% in today’s pre-market activity.
Parts and services company Johnson Controls (JCI - Free Report) met expectations of 93 cents per share this morning while outperforming on the revenues side to $8.37 billion from the $8.28 billion in the Zacks consensus, and up 3% year over year. Shares remain notably down year to date and from the year-ago quarter. Minimal trades have hit the tape in today’s early market.
Specialty retailer Sally Beauty Holdings (SBH - Free Report) also outpaced estimates on its bottom line — 51 cents per share versus the 48 cents expected (and 45 cents in the year-ago quarter), but a slight miss on the top line — $966 million in fiscal Q4 revenues, and down from the year-ago total of $974.2 million. Shares are roughly even year to date, and up year over year.