Jobless Claims, Housing Starts and GoPro Make Headlines

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The morning following the expected quarter-point rate hike from the Fed shows futures higher again today, with several data points bolstering the relative strength we’re seeing throughout the domestic economy. Thursday morning Initial Jobless Claims, Housing Starts and Permits and the latest Philly Fed report offer market participants – as well as the Federal Reserve – new information on the state of things.

Jobless claims remain in an historically very low range: 241K for the past week, 2000 claims lower than the same read last week. We had actually slipped all the way to 223K a couple weeks ago, but generally speaking we have been in a 225-250K range, consistent with a strong U.S. labor market. As we saw in last week’s non-farm payroll report, Americans are working these days. Perhaps they all don’t have the jobs they ultimately would like, but wage growth is beginning to occur, which is a further sign of strength.

Housing Starts for February rose 3%, higher than the previous-month’s read, on 1.288 million seasonally adjusted, annualized new starts. This was roughly in-line with expectations, and recall that much of the country experienced warmer weather in the month of February. Building Permits – a forward indicator of future starts – actually fell 6% to 1.213 million, which is a surprise to the downside.

The Philly Fed survey was also released before the bell this morning, following the blowout read of 43.32 in the month of February with a more reasonable 32.8 in March. This survey, tracking as it does economic activity in one (major) American city, is prone to high volatility. But growth strength in the city of Philadelphia looks to continue the narrative of improving conditions in the U.S. economy.

Finally, GoPro GPRO is up more than 10% in early trading today, following the announcement that the company is guiding Q1 estimates higher while cutting 270 positions from its payroll. The Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock – prior to the announcement; we look for analyst revisions to the upside today and tomorrow – with a Zacks Style Score (Value, Growth and Momentum) of B looks to be getting its arms around how far and fast the company is able to grow.

Mark Vickery
Senior Editor

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