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Weekly Jobless Claims Seem Stabilizing

Another Thursday morning, another weekly Initial Jobless Claims number. These figures have been lowering reliably, if moderately, over the past couple months — no mean feat considering the new onset of Covid-19 outbreaks threatening new hires the same way they did last late-winter/early spring. The headline 751K was beneath the upwardly revised 758K (though 751K was the reported headline number a week ago, as well), though higher than the expected 728K.

Continuing Claims (for the week prior) came in at 7.29 million, again steadily lower than the 7.82 million reported last week. We’re still among “pandemic levels” in jobless claims, both new and continuing. However, consider the 12-week chart, which showed us up around 1.5 million longer-term jobless claims for the week of August 9th. We’re now more than halfway down from that level, and keeping in the right direction.

Of course, these jobless claims figures are sandwiched between monthly jobs reports, with the ADP ADP private-sector numbers released yesterday and tomorrow’s non-farm payrolls from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In these, we see a lower-than-expected 365K new private-sector jobs reported for October and 530K anticipated for tomorrow’s report, which is lower than the previous month’s disappointing 661K BLS figure reported a month ago.

We understand job creation, while still strongly positive, is well off the pace of earlier in the recovery. Consider tomorrow’s estimate with a downward bias, though BLS and ADP numbers often don’t match in real time.

Productivity for Q3 came in less than half the Q2 number — +4.9% versus +10.1% previously. This is also down from the expected +7.6% for U.S. productivity in the past quarter overall. We continue our economic growth metrics substantiated in these numbers as elsewhere, although we again see a felling off of the previous pace.

Our economic growth is slowing, in other words. Unit Labor Costs, coming off a 9.0% rise in Q2, reported -8.9% in Q3 — indicating lower-level employees have enjoyed more job security than upper management. This actual figure was better than the anticipated -14.7%, which is moderately good news.

General Motors GM reported Q3 earnings results this morning, beating on the bottom line but coming up short on the top: $2.78 per share roared ahead of the $1.47 per share expected, and more than a buck higher than the year-ago’s $1.72; revenues of $35.5 billion came in a bit short of the $38.0 billion our analysts were predicting. Chevy trucks and crossover led the way. A bold look forward, to new products like the Hummer EV — until fairly recently a complete oxymoron — are helping give GM a new perspective. Shares are up 1.7% in today’s pre-market.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba BABA missed estimates on its fiscal Q2 revenues this morning: $22.84 billion in sales was below the $22.90 billion expected, though +30% year over year. Earnings per ADS of $1.54 ($2.65 per ADS, non-GAAP) compare with the $2.06 in the Zacks consensus. Mobile Monthly Active Users (MAU) rose 7 million quarter over quarter, +881 million. Alibaba founder Jack Ma has been in the news lately for his Ant Group IPO being delayed on the Chinese markets. Shares of BABA are up modestly in pre-market trading.

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