Article / 24 August 2017 at 4:56 GMT

3 Numbers: Another upbeat report expected for US jobless claims

editor/analyst /
United States
  • A moderately softer August print for UK retail spending is expected 
  • US jobless claims should hold near multi-decade lows, boosting jobs outlook 
  • Will US existing home sales falter in the wake of disappointing new-home sales?
  • Volatile data makes it hard to discern the underlying trend in new US housing

An early estimate of UK retail spending for August is on tap today via the CBI Distributive Trades Survey. Later, the US is back in focus with the weekly report on jobless claims, followed by the monthly data on existing home sales.

US initial jobless claims are on track to remain near a multi-decade low. Photo: Shutterstock

UK: CBI Distributive Trades Index (1000 GMT) Britain’s employers are increasingly anxious about the outlook for the economy, according to a new survey by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC).

“The jobs market continues to do well despite growing uncertainty,” REC’s chief executive said on Wednesday. “However, this drop in employer confidence should raise a red flag. Businesses are continuing to hire to meet demand, but issues like access to labour, Brexit negotiations and political uncertainty are creating nervousness.”

Today’s survey data for the retail industry, however, isn’t expected to deliver a smoking gun. Economists project a modest decline for the August reading of the CBI Distributive Trades Index, which is considered a leading indicator for the hard data on retail sales.’s consensus forecast calls for the benchmark to dip to 16, but that still translates to a modestly bullish number relative to the figures published so far this year.

Nonetheless, the trend in the growth rate of actual retail spending has been slipping in 2017. Retail sales volume rose just 1.3% in year-on-year terms in July. 

If today’s CBI index ticks lower, the news will weigh on the outlook for the August hard-data update on retail spending that’s due next month. 

US: Initial Jobless Claims (1230 GMT) Concern is rising in some quarters about the US economic outlook, or so it appears based on the renewed demand for safe-haven Treasuries.

Chasing bonds has pushed prices up and yields down. The rate on the benchmark 10-year Treasury in mid-day trading on Wednesday, for example, fell below 2.20%, close to a two-month low. Analysts point to the persistence of low inflation and modest economic growth as key drivers for the yield's recent decline.

Early estimates of third-quarter GDP growth, however, look encouraging, according to several sources. Notably, the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow model is currently looking for output to rise 3.8% –sharply above Q2’s 2.6% increase. 

Wall Street economists, however, aren’t yet convinced that Q3 growth will accelerate. The median forecast via CNBC’s survey data for August 17 only points to a fractionally stronger improvement for GDP growth to 2.8%.

The good news is that most forecasts for Q3 growth show the macro trend holding steady or ramping up. Almost no one at this point is expecting a material slowdown.

Today’s weekly report on new filings for new unemployment benefits will probably support the optimists. Initial jobless claims, a leading indicator for the labour market and the economy overall, are on track to remain close to a multi-decade low.’s consensus forecast sees claims edging up 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 237,000 for the week through August 19. But that’s barely higher than the previous week’s reading, which is close to the lowest level since 1973.

It’s risky to analyse the economy with just one indicator, but for today at least the data will provide an optimistic spin from the perspective of the labour market. The implied forecast: employment growth will remain relatively healthy in next week’s payrolls report for August.

US: Existing Home Sales (1400 GMT) Sales of newly built homes fell sharply in July, raising questions about today’s update on existing sales for last month.

Economists were looking for new sales of 610,000 (seasonally adjusted annual rate) – the actual number skidded to 571,000 in July, the lowest level so far this year.

“This looks bad but note that sales over the previous three months were revised up by a total of 46K,” said the chief economist at Pantheon Macro. “Prices are rising, too, but the data are so volatile that it’s hard to be sure what the underlying trend rate of increase is at any given point.”

This much is clear: another disappointing report in today’s today for existing sales – a much larger market – would be hard to overlook. For the moment, however, analysts are thinking positively.’s consensus forecast calls for a moderately firmer number of existing sales – 5.565 million units, up from 5.552 million in June.

If today’s release ends up stumbling, on the other hand, the run of surprisingly weak back-to-back reports will take a bite out of the outlook for the housing market.


Create your own charts with SaxoTrader; click here to learn more 

– Edited by Gayle Bryant

James Picerno is a macro analyst/editor at Follow James or post your comment below to engage with Saxo Bank's social trading platform.


The Saxo Bank Group entities each provide execution-only service and access to permitting a person to view and/or use content available on or via the website is not intended to and does not change or expand on this. Such access and use are at all times subject to (i) The Terms of Use; (ii) Full Disclaimer; (iii) The Risk Warning; (iv) the Rules of Engagement and (v) Notices applying to and/or its content in addition (where relevant) to the terms governing the use of hyperlinks on the website of a member of the Saxo Bank Group by which access to is gained. Such content is therefore provided as no more than information. In particular no advice is intended to be provided or to be relied on as provided nor endorsed by any Saxo Bank Group entity; nor is it to be construed as solicitation or an incentive provided to subscribe for or sell or purchase any financial instrument. All trading or investments you make must be pursuant to your own unprompted and informed self-directed decision. As such no Saxo Bank Group entity will have or be liable for any losses that you may sustain as a result of any investment decision made in reliance on information which is available on or as a result of the use of the Orders given and trades effected are deemed intended to be given or effected for the account of the customer with the Saxo Bank Group entity operating in the jurisdiction in which the customer resides and/or with whom the customer opened and maintains his/her trading account. When trading through your contracting Saxo Bank Group entity will be the counterparty to any trading entered into by you. does not contain (and should not be construed as containing) financial, investment, tax or trading advice or advice of any sort offered, recommended or endorsed by Saxo Bank Group and should not be construed as a record of ourtrading prices, or as an offer, incentive or solicitation for the subscription, sale or purchase in any financial instrument. To the extent that any content is construed as investment research, you must note and accept that the content was not intended to and has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and as such, would be considered as a marketing communication under relevant laws. Please read our disclaimers:
- Notification on Non-Independent Invetment Research
- Full disclaimer

Check your inbox for a mail from us to fully activate your profile. No mail? Have us re-send your verification mail