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Takeaway: Another week of solid labor market improvement. We would take advantage of beaten down deep-value names on the long side on this data.

A Steadily Widening Divergence

This past week's claims data looks almost identical to that of the prior week. Rolling NSA claims were better by 9.6% YoY, which was a hair better than the 9.5% improvement in the previous week. SA claims were better WoW but essentially flat on a rolling basis. Clearly all eyes are on the Friday payrolls report. Historically the ability to forecast NFP with claims has been poor, i.e. there's typically a high correlation but with a fairly high standard error. Nevertheless, the 4-wk print (SA) this week was 346.5k, which was actually down from the 4-wk print for May at 352.5k. Based on this and last month's NSA print of 175k and this month's consensus of 161k, we'll go out on a limb and suggest that there's a better than 50% chance the NFP print will come in nominally ahead of expectations.

Tactically thinking about the Friday number aside, the real takeaway is that the fundamentals of the labor market (NSA YoY) continue to improve at an accelerating rate. Deep value, credit quality-levered longs like BAC remain among our top picks on this basis, coupled with the fact the recovering housing market shows no signs of derailing on the recent back-up in rates.

The Data

Prior to revision, initial jobless claims fell 3k to 343k from 346k WoW, as the prior week's number was revised up by 2k to 348k.

The headline (unrevised) number shows claims were lower by 5k WoW. Meanwhile, the 4-week rolling average of seasonally-adjusted claims fell -0.75k WoW to 346.5k.

The 4-week rolling average of NSA claims, which we consider a more accurate representation of the underlying labor market trend, was -9.6% lower YoY, which is a sequential improvement versus the previous week's YoY change of -9.5%

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Yield Spreads

The 2-10 spread fell -7.1 basis points WoW to 213 bps. 2Q13TD, the 2-10 spread is averaging 172 bps, which is higher by 4 bps relative to 1Q13.

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Joshua Steiner, CFA

Jonathan Casteleyn, CFA, CMT