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Instant View: Weekly US jobless claims top 6 million for first time

Kitco News

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits last week shot to a record high for a second week in a row - topping 6 million - as more jurisdictions enforced stay-at-home measures to curb the coronavirus pandemic, which economists say has pushed the economy into recession.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose to 6.65 million in the latest week from an unrevised 3.3 million the previous week, the U.S. Labor Department said on Thursday.

MARKETS:

STOCKS: S&P 500 e-mini futures EScv1 turned lower and were last off about 0.33%, pointing to soft open for the benchmark index

TREASURIES: Yields initially slipped: The two-year note yield was last at 0.2216% and the 10-year yield edged back to 0.5923% where it was before the data were released

DOLLAR: The US dollar index =USD added to gains and was last up 0.53%

COMMENTS

OLIVER PURSCHE, VICE CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF MARKET STRATEGIST, BRUDERMAN ASSET MANAGEMENT, NEW YORK

“We knew it was coming and we will probably see a worse number next week. If you’re told you’re going to have triplets, don’t be surprised if you come home with three babies.”

“The market is recalibrating, more than anything else market participants are trying to figure out what can or should be done. If it’s a wave as may predict, business should recover and there shouldn’t be too much permanent damage.”

TOM SIMONS, MONEY MARKET ECONOMIST, JEFFERIES, NEW YORK

“It leaves me speechless to be honest seeing another record high after record-high data last week.”

    “As far as the bond market is concerned, it’s already written off April and Q2 as a total loss. I think that’s part of why there was sort of a muted reaction.”

RANDY FREDERICK, VICE PRESIDENT, TRADING AND DERIVATIVES, CHARLES SCHWAB, AUSTIN, TEXAS

    “We jumped up to a monstrous number - over 3 million - last week and now today over 6 million. That’s just enormous. It’s probably almost double what the original estimate was I think, so that’s huge.

    “What surprises me the most is not the number but the fact that like last week, the market’s reaction is fairly subdued. Looks like we got about a 30 point pullback on S&P 500 futures which is, by today’s standards, a fairly, fairly small move considering how much volatility we’ve had and how big the daily moves.”

    “These numbers are so big that it’s almost hard to comprehend.”

GENNADIY GOLDBERG, INTEREST RATE STRATEGIST, TD SECURITIES, NEW YORK

“The rise is unprecedented, what it tells us is that the U.S. economy is going into a full sudden stop, that’s why the numbers are so large. It’s a downturn effectively suppressed into several weeks. Whereas normal downturns take months and months and quarters to play out, this downturn is playing out basically within a month. It does tell you that the impact will be quite large. The payroll number later this week probably won’t be reflecting the full extent of the weakness, and next month’s number will probably be quite enormous.”

“Part of (the subdued market reaction) could be that the implications are so wide, and the market is unable to even wrap their heads around the magnitude of this increase, or the fact that we’re starting to price in the fact that the U.S. economy is basically at a full stop. That could be one of the reasons that we’re not reacting more here. I think we will, I think the data basically has to sink in a little bit. Markets have to digest the fact that all the workers being laid off, while they are still receiving some added assistance from the government, they are not going out and still not spending, so they are still not adding to GDP. So once we get a fuller extent of the damage, I think they will react. We still think rates go lower over the coming months and not higher.”

PRIYA MISRA, HEAD OF GLOBAL RATES STRATEGY, TD SECURITIES, NEW YORK

“I’m surprised the market is not reacting. We expected to see 4.5 million claims. This number is doubling last week’s. The bad data is being priced in. We know that a large part of the economy is shutting down, so maybe people just expected an outlandish number.”

“My fear is that once the unemployment rate starts to go up, it doesn’t retrace quickly because companies go out of business. So now the market is more focused on the length of time the shutdown will last. We’re looking for minus 25% GPD in the second quarter. But it’s the third quarter that matters. We need positive news. When is the peak of the virus?”

JOE MANIMBO, SENIOR MARKET ANALYST, WESTERN UNION BUSINESS SOLUTIONS, WASHINGTON

    “U.S. jobless claims smashing the previous record has sparked a flight to safety and we’re seeing the yen sort of rally against the dollar. You just get the sense that we are in the early stages of the spike in jobless claims and the sky is the limit, at least in the short term.”

Compiled by Alden Bentley

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