BY: MARSHALL BARTLETT
Senior Vice President / Portfolio Manager
Announced this morning, Initial Jobless Claims were 1,300,000 for the week ending July 11th, higher than expected. Continuing Claims were 17,338,000 as of July 4th, a bit lower than the previous week. Meanwhile, Retail Sales for June increased 7.5%, more than estimates and still positive despite last month’s large increase. Strength occurred in stores that sell clothing & accessories, electronics, and furniture, while food & beverage (grocery) stores were weak. The Control Group, which excludes sales for food, autos, building materials, and gas stations, increased 5.6% in June, also more than estimates and still positive following last month’s gains. Overall, the jobless claims figures highlight the trend of improving economic data, but those improvements have been slowing. In addition, levels remain elevated as we grapple with increased cases, a fluctuating reopening process for the economy, and ongoing news of progress on therapeutics and vaccines. The retail sales data shows consumers continue to spend, partly due to fiscal stimulus, some of which is set to expire at the end of July. While an agreement on extending the stimulus is possible, leaders continue to debate the details as we move closer to the deadline. In all, bond yields ticked lower following the report and equity futures are lower as we head into the market open.
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