After going the wrong way for 3 weeks, initial unemployment claims dropped to 440k last week, down 43k from 483k the week prior (revised up 3k). This brings the 4-week rolling average down 1.5k to 468.3k from 469.8k last week. This is an important print as it reverses the negative trend of the last three weeks, and keeps the trajectory in-line with the data trends since March 2009.
As a reminder, our channel shows claims hitting 375-400k between late-February - mid-May, at which point we expect unemployment to begin to move steadily lower. The drop in unemployment from 10.0% to 9.7% this past month suggests we may already be at that point. We consider the rolling claims data the best leading indicator for consumer credit, and this week's data bodes well for consumer finance companies.
Joshua Steiner, CFA