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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Housing Gets Started, Unemployment Insurance Gets Claimed, And Spain's Pains Stay On The Plains

We've got some stuff happening today. About an hour ago, Housing Starts and Jobless Claims came out. Then, at 10 AM, we get the Philadelphia Fed Survey. Busy, busy day. And that's not even considering President Obama's tax cut "compromise" going to the House today[1], or FedEx (FDX) second-quarter profits missing expectations.
Last month, we had a heartily disappointing 519k new Housing Starts in October (we were expecting 590k). For this month, the Street is looking for 550k new starts. Meanwhile, last week, we saw 421k new jobless claims for the week ending 12/4 (marginally better than the 425k that had been predicted), and the Street is going conservative and predicting a mild improvement to only 420k new claims,
The reality is slightly better than expected. Housing starts for November hit 555k, beating the revised October figure of 534k (yes, the final number was revised upwards) by 3.9%. 465k of those were single-family homes, while only 72k were buildings with five units or more. 513k privately-owned housing units were completed in November (up 14.1% from October) and 530k new building permits were issued (up 4%). the bulk of these were in the region the Census Bureau describes as "South", so I guess that makes sense.
Turning to the First Time Jobless Claims, we came in at 420k new claims for the week ending 12/11, down 3k from the previous week's revised figure of 423k. Yes, that's right. The 12/4 421,000 new claims were revised upwards, meaning more people lost their jobs than was originally reported. Iowa and Idaho came out the best (they had a decrease in the number of claims), while 30 states had more than 1000 new claims (New York was worst off at +16,863, with North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Georgia hot on it's heels with over 15k new claims each).
Combine all of this with the fact that Spain hasn't taken Europe's economy down in flames yet, and it shapes up to pretty good news for the morning.
[1] I'd expect it to be DOA. But I expected that when it hit the Senate as well, so now it's a wait-and-see game.

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