Jobless Claims Just Fell to Pandemic Low. The Stock Market Is Gaining.

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People walk by a Help Wanted sign in the Queens borough of New York City on June 04, 2021 in New York City.

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U.S. jobless claims fell to their lowest level of the pandemic ahead of Friday’s August payrolls report. The stock market reaction, however, has been limited.

The number of Americans filing for first-time jobless benefits fell to 340,000 during the week ended Aug. 28, its lowest since March 2020, and better than the 345,000 predicted by economists. Continuing claims fell to 2.784 million, down from 2.908 million and better than the 2.833 million expected. Together, they’re another sign that the job market is starting to heal.

“Bottom line, we now have the lowest initial filings for claims and smallest level of continuing claims since everything changed in March last year,” writes Bleakley Advisory Group’s Peter Boockvar.

What it says about August’s payrolls report is less clear. BMO Capital Markets’ Ian Lyngen notes that continuing claims, when combined with Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation still point to some 12 million people receiving some sort of benefit. “Gradual improvement to be sure, although the translation to the BLS figures becomes the most pressing question at this stage,” Lyngen writes.

The market response to claims has been muted. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures have advanced 85 points, or 0.2%, while S&P 500 futures have risen 0.2%, and Nasdaq Composite futures have gained 0.3%, near their highs of the morning. The 10-year Treasury note is off 0.0126 percentage point to 1.2903%, slightly higher than it was before the report.

Write to Ben Levisohn at ben.levisohn@barrons.com

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