The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits climbed last week to a one-month high, showing little progress in the labor market.
Jobless claims rose by 4,000 for a second week to reach 372,000 in the period ended Aug. 18, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 41 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 365,000. The four-week moving average, a less volatile measure, increased to 368,000.
This prompted ZeroHedge’s response: “The real story continues to be the steep fall off in those on extended benefits and EUC, which declined by a total of 48K in the past week, and down by about half a million in the last few months, and lower by 1.3 million in the past year. This is 1.3 million fewer consumers who can recycle Uncle Sam’s dole back into the economy and iGadgets.”
Later in the morning we got a nugget more information. Again, ZeroHedge brings us back to reality:
Looking at the headline number in the just released New Home Sales data one would be left with the impression that the tepid “recovery” in housing may be chugging along: after all with a seasonally adjusted annualized 372,000 new homes sold in July, this was an improvement to the revised 359K in June (ignoring that the US housing market at best continues to drag along the bottom). This impression, however, promptly changes when one looks at the underlying data. The reality: the actual number of new homes sold in July was 34,000, the same as in June, and the lowest since March. Of this, a massive 3,000 (yes, three thousand) homes were sold in the Northeast in the entire month. Where things get worse is when one looks at the number of new homes for sale. At 142,000 (of which just 38,000 actually completed), this was the lowest number. EVER. And finally, to ruin all hopes that the housing bottom may mean an actual pricing bottom, the median new home price slid to $224,200, down from $229,100 in June, and the lowest since January, while the average home price declined from $266,900 to $263,200. This was the lowest average price posted so far in 2012.