Before the opening bell, the Labor Department reported that Jobless Claims rose by 17 thousand to 233,000, but it was below the expected reading of 240,000.  This data shows that the U.S. labor market remains very strong. 

The chart below shows the last two years of jobless claims.

Source: Bloomberg.com

 

As you can see, jobless claims have been steadily dropping since January of 2016 with the exception of a few spikes in the fall of 2017, and one in the beginning of 2018, but overall claims have stayed under 300,000.  The recent uptick in the first week of January was attributed to seasonal jobs over the holiday, but the subsequent two weeks have been well below the 240,000 level– indicating that layoffs are becoming more rare and that hiring remains very strong. The overall unemployment rate is expected to reamain at 4.1%

Tomorrow, we will be getting 2 important economic data points before the opening bell, the fourth quarter GDP, and the Durable Goods Orders reports.  These are important future indicators for both the overall health of the economy, and the manufacturing sector.  The GDP report is expected to come in at 2.9% with consumer spending being the biggest driver for the quarter.  Durable Goods Orders, which reflect the new orders placed with manufacturers for immediate and future delivery of factory goods, is expected to show a .6% improvement.  This would be solid indicator that the manufacturing sector continues to remain strong.

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