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Salad of Econ Data for Healthy Markets: ADP, Claims & More

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Thursday, December 6, 2018

New private sector ADP (ADP - Free Report) payroll numbers for November have come out this morning, one day before non-farm payroll results from the BLS government survey will be released, and for the first time in recent memory these figures have come up a bit short of expectations: 179K new private sector jobs were created last month, down from the 190K analysts had been looking for. October totals were revised down by 2000 jobs to 225K.

For sure, this is far from the end of the world — in fact, 179K is still roughly double the amount of new jobs the U.S. economy needs to offset retiring baby boomers. Goods brought 16K new jobs while Services had the lion’s share, at 163K. The non-farm payroll estimate tomorrow has come down a bit from 200K+ to 198K.

Education/Healthcare typically led industries with 49K new positions filled, followed by Leisure/Hospitality at 29K. Construction and Manufacturing have rolled back some of their recent gains to 10K and 4K, respectively, but still notably in positive territory. In short, private sector job growth, while not at peak levels we’d seen this past summer, are still at robust levels overall.

Initial Jobless Claims, a Thursday staple in pre-market econ data, lowered 4000 claims to 231K last week from an upwardly revised 235K the previous week. This is the second straight read out of the long-held 200-225K range, into a still-healthy 225-250K. Consider our near 200K reads earlier this year were near 50-year lows (when the economy was far different — and smaller! — than it is today), and it puts into perspective how thoroughly healthy a 231K read is today.

Continuing Claims fell unexpectedly lower, from 1.705 million last week to 1.631 million in today’s numbers. This remains consistent with those half-century-low reads we had been seeing; apparently, long-term unemployment — remember, a huge problem in the wake of the Great Recession a decade ago — is now a thing of the past. This is also a very good thing for the U.S. labor market.

We saw an in-line final figure on Q3 Productivity, at +2.3%. This is a 10-basis-point improvement from the last read, with Unit Labor Costs rising 0.9%, also in-line with expectations.

The Trade Deficit for October registered at $55.5 billion, a tad lower than what analysts had been expecting. This is also at a 10-year high, and above last month’s headline -$54.56 billion. But basically this has been anticipated, and to an extent, already baked into the economic cake.

That said, pre-market futures are way down again this morning, representing something reminiscent of the taper tantrums we’d seen a couple years back, when market participants protested moves by the Federal Reserve to look after interest rate levels, etc. Currently, the market still expects another quarter-point rate hike two weeks from today, even with an inversion of the 3- and 5-year yield curves. Add onto that continuing question marks related to the U.S./China trade war, and even though we’re being served our economic vegetables this morning, traders are spitting them out.

Mark Vickery
Senior Editor

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