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There was a huge drop last week in the number of people filing initial applications for state unemployment benefits.

The Labor Department reports seasonally adjusted first-time claims totaled 233,000 in the week ended July 15 a drop of 15,000 from the previous week's revised, which was revised upward by 1,000.

The less volatile 4-week moving average, considered a more accurate barometer of the labor market, fell by 2,250 from a week earlier, was 243,750.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

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Leading Indicators

Another encouraging reading from a key indicator of how the economy is likely to be performing in the months ahead.

The Conference Board reports its Leading Economic Index (LEI) jumped 0.6% in June following an advance of 0.2% in May and a 0.2% increase in April.

It's the LEI's tenth consecutive monthly gain.

"The U.S. LEI rose sharply in June, pointing to continued growth in the U.S. economy and perhaps even a moderate improvement in GDP growth in the second half of the year," said Conference Board Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research Ataman Ozyildirim. "The broad-based gain in the U.S. LEI was led by a large contribution from housing permits, which improved after several months of weakness."

The LEI, a composite average of several individual leading indicators, is constructed to summarize and reveal common turning point patterns in economic data in a clearer and more convincing manner than any individual component -- primarily because it smooths out some of the volatility of individual components.

The LEI's components include:

  • Average weekly hours, manufacturing
  • Average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance
  • Manufacturers' new orders, consumer goods and materials
  • ISM Index of New Orders
  • Manufacturers' new orders, nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders
  • Building permits, new private housing units
  • Stock prices, 500 common stocks
  • Leading Credit Index
  • Interest rate spread, 10-year Treasury bonds less federal funds
  • Average consumer expectations for business conditions



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