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Good News Across the Board: Claims, Starts, Permits, Philly & WMT


Thursday, May 16, 2019

More economic data this morning brings more grist for the mill in the markets, plus we see Q1 earnings results from big-box retail giant Walmart WMT. And for the first time in a while, everything seems to be coming up roses:

Initial Jobless Claims fell by 16,000 to 212K last week, back in the long-term range of 200-225K we’d enjoyed before volatility began to shake these numbers on a weekly basis, both higher and lower than this range. The 4-week moving average now stands right at 225K.

Continuing Claims also fell — and these numbers remain near 50-year lows — from 1.688 million previously to 1.66 million two weeks ago.

Housing Starts posted better-than-expected numbers for April, up 5.7% month over month to 1.235 million seasonally adjusted, annualized units from the upwardly revised 1.168 million. Seasonality is playing its part in these figures, which had been dormant in the face of strong employment and GDP numbers; housing had been the laggard. It looks as if this may be catching up.

Building Permits — a forward indicator of future starts — reached 1.296 million, marginally higher than the 1.291 million expected. These follow an unrevised March read of 1.288 million. No weakness anywhere here. What else have we got this morning?

Answer: the Philly Fed Manufacturing Survey for May, which outperformed estimates, as well. A headline of 16.6 nearly doubled the 8.5 we saw for April, and beat the 10.1 analysts were expecting. This new number is nearly as good as the 17.0 we saw in January, which remains the high watermark for the year.

Finally, Zacks Rank #2 (Buy)-rated Walmart posted an earnings beat — $1.13 per share versus $1.02 expected (down a penny from the year-ago Q1 number) — while missed on the top line by around 1% to $123.93 billion, though this was up from the $122.69 billion in last year’s Q1. This quarter marks 5 straight earnings beat for Walmart, which also carries a Value – Growth – Momentum grade of A.

Shares of Walmart are up 3.8% at this moment in the pre-market, following growth of 11.3% year to date. Pre-market futures across the board are up, as positive sentiment regarding developments (or lack thereof) in the U.S.-China trade war are keeping our indexes in the green. For more on WMT’s earnings, click here.

Mark Vickery
Senior Editor

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