Markets are in the green early in the U.S. trading session.
The Dow is up 155 points.
The S&P is up 17 points.
The Nasdaq’s up 43 points.
In an encouraging sign for the U.S. labour market, initial weekly unemployment claims fell to 331,000 from 351,000 a week ago.
While we can’t completely rule out the possible distortive affects of weather, this week’s number was nevertheless lower than the 335,000 expected by economists.
“According to MNI, the Labour Department reported no special factors but noted that data for Kansas were estimated. as an ice storm forced state offices to close,” said Barclays’ Cooper Howes.
Weather is likely to mess with upcoming data as well.
“After last week’s unexpected spike, this is something of a relief, though the latest bout of severe weather could easily push claims back up again for a time,” said Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics. “Still, claims have now been at or around the 330K mark in four of the past five weeks, so that seems to be as good an idea of the underlying trend as any. This means claims are no lower now than at the end of last summer, before all the Q4 distortions. But the pace of hiring seems to have improved despite static layoffs, so the trend in payroll growth has nudged higher. We are hopeful that claims will trend lower over the course of H1, generating a further improvement in the job growth numbers.”
Markets across Europe are also up.
Britain’s FTSE 100 is up 0.9%.
France’s CAC 40 is up 0.8%.
Germany’s DAX is up 0.6%.
Spain’s IBEX is up 0.9%.
Italy’s FTSE MIB is up 0.9%.
The euro spiked as ECB president Mario Draghi made clear he would be announcing no change to monetary policy. There had been some speculation that the ECB could possibly lower rates or announce some new form of easy monetary policy in light of anemic economic and disappointingly low inflation data.