Thursday, October 8, 2009

Quick Notes for the Day - October 8

Initial Jobless Claims Drops - The Labor Department reported that the initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell by 33,000 to a seasonally adjusted 521,000 last week. This is the lowest initial claims number since January 2009. Continuing state benefit claims dropped by 72,000 to 6.04 million which is the lowest number since March 2009. The number of people collecting extended federal benefits rose by 68,000 to 3.79 million. Including those federal programs, the number of people claiming benefits of any kind in the week ending Sept. 19 was 9.36 million, not seasonally adjusted, down from 9.42 million in the previous week.

Retail Stocks Up on September Sales Data - Retail stocks rose Thursday morning as the sector's main indicator gained traction following September sales results buoyed by the late Labor Day weekend and some signs of economic improvement.

Among 30 retailers that reported the September numbers, about 80% beat Wall Street's expectations, according to Thomson Reuters.

Target's sales fell 1.7%, slightly less than the 2% drop analysts estimated. Kohl's sales rose 5.5%, compared with a 0.1% estimate, after the company said all regions and all lines of businesses reported gains. Ross, TJ Maxx, Macy's, and Nordstrom's all also beat expectations.

Mortgage Rates Drop - Rates on fixed-rate mortgages fell again this week, with the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaging 4.87% according to Freddie Mac's weekly survey of conforming rates. The 30-year fixed-mortgage rate averaged 4.94% last week, and 5.94% a year ago.

Fifteen-year fixed-rate mortgages also dropped, averaging 4.33% for the week ending Oct. 8, down from 4.36% last week and 5.63% a year ago. This week's average is the lowest on record, which dates back to 1991.

Consumer Debt Drops More Than Expected - The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that consumers cut $11.98 billion in borrowing in August, trimming their outstanding debt to $2.46 trillion, representing a 5.8% annual rate of decline and deeper than economists had expected. Credit-card debt dropped the most, falling 13.1%, or $9.91 billion, to $899.41 billion. It was the 11th uninterrupted month of declines, the longest on record.

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