By Carlos Guillen
It is simply "incredible." The Dow Jones Industrial Average is continuing to ramp higher after reaching all time highs for nine consecutive days, which represented the longest up ticks in 17 years. That is right ... we are heading for a tenth day of record highs.
Quite encouraging today was that a key measure of U.S. job layoffs is approaching a five-year low; clearly continuing the encouraging signs of a strengthening labor market after last week's jobs report. According to the Department of Labor, initial claims during the week ended March 9 totaled 332,000, decreasing from the 342,000 revised figure reported for the prior week and landing below the Street's estimate of 350,000. The fact that the number continued below 350,000 is certainly encouraging; and this has now occurred for three consecutive weeks, giving confidence that it is less likely that it will rise above this threshold. The initial claims' four-week moving average was 346,750, decreasing from the prior week's average of 349,250, and representing the second tick below 350,000. While the jobs market is still unsatisfactory, at least the small continuous improvements are giving more hope.
Another report today showed prices paid to producers climbed for a second consecutive month. According to the Department of Labor, the Producers Price Index (PPI) in February increased month-over-month by 0.7 percent; this compares with the Street's consensus estimate calling for a 0.6 percent rise. Excluding food and energy contributions to the price index, core PPI increased month-over-month by 0.2 percent, matching economists' average forecast.
At the moment despite some mixed economic data, stocks are making rather strong moves to the upside, with the Dow up over 50 points. Tomorrow we will be getting Michigan sentiment data, and it is looking like it will be a good number pushing markets even higher.