Jobless claims up, Pending home sales increase and FedEx (FDX) to change rates

Bourbon & Bayonets / Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

Markets wavered on the final trading day for 2014. There was a rise in jobless claims last week. The Labor Department reported that jobless claims increased 17,000 to a total of 298,000 for the week ending on December 27. This gain followed four weeks of declines for unemployment claims. Despite the increase last week, it was still below economists’ expectations of 290,000. The holiday season is a highly volatile time for jobs data. There was an increase of 250 claims for the four-week moving average, to total 290,750. This data is more stable as it subtracts weekly swings from the data. Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank, said, “Companies are not laying off workers for weak demand recession conditions. This means that unemployment will continue to fall at a fast rate. “

Pending home sales inched up last month, a separate report showed. The National Association of Realtors said that sales of previously owned homes were up 0.8% to a total of 104.8. There was also a slight downward revision of October’s data. Pending contracts are converted to actual sales within a month or two of the initial contract. There was a boost in contracts in the Northeast, South and West. There was a slight drop in the Midwest. Economists had predicted a rise of 0.5% for pending home sales. When compared against this time last year, contracts were up 4.1%. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said, “The consistent economic growth and steady hiring we’ve seen the second half of this year is giving buyers enough assurance to consider purchasing a home before year’s end. With rents now rising at a seven-year high, historically low rates and moderating price growth are likely to entice more buyers to enter the market in upcoming months.”

Shares of FedEx Corporation (FDX) were heading slightly as news hit that the company would be introducing their new pricing structure and implement it on Monday. They will not be charging by weight for packages under 3 cubic feet but by their dimensional weight. Multiplying a boxes length by its width and height and dividing that by 166, configures dimensional weight. Jess Bunn, a spokesman for FedEx said, “We need to charge a fair value for use of our asset, which in this case is space.”

Thats all for today and Happy New Years Eve to you,

Warren Gates, Normandy Research

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