NEW YORK (Reuters) – While good business news has been in short supply, investors may take slight comfort in coming weeks from U.S. corporate earnings that are likely to be bad, but not as bad as they have been.

Analysts expect third-quarter S&P 500 earnings to have fallen 21% compared with the year-ago quarter, a big improvement from second-quarter’s 30.6% drop that was most likely the low point for earnings this year because of coronavirus-fueled lockdowns, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Earnings reporting will get rolling next week with results from some of the big U.S. banks, likely impacted by near record low interest rates and the pandemic-induced recession. JPMorgan & Co.

and Citigroup

both release results on Tuesday.

(Graphic: S&P 500 Q3 earnings look bad, but not as bad as Q2 – https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-STOCKS/azgvoaoyzvd/chart.png)

Overall, S&P 500 quarterly results tend to beat analysts’ cautious expectations, and they could do that even more than usual this reporting season, strategists said. In a break from the typical trend, guidance from U.S. companies has been more positive than negative and estimates have been improving in recent weeks to reflect more upbeat guidance.

Whether that will be enough to support stocks in the weeks ahead is up for debate.

“Very rarely in the last 10 years have we seen earnings estimates moving higher after a quarterly reporting season,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.

“That’s a very good sign. It’s a sign there’s a strong possibility this quarterly earnings season is now going to be better than expected,” he said. “The only problem is, now that we’ve entered the fourth quarter, a lot of the economic indicators are plateauing.”

That could weigh on fourth-quarter guidance and overshadow some of the better-than-expected results, he said.

Data this past

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK (Reuters) – While good business news has been in short supply, investors may take slight comfort in coming weeks from U.S. corporate earnings that are likely to be bad, but not as bad as they have been.

Analysts expect third-quarter S&P 500 earnings to have fallen 21% compared with the year-ago quarter, a big improvement from second-quarter’s 30.6% drop that was most likely the low point for earnings this year because of coronavirus-fueled lockdowns, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Earnings reporting will get rolling next week with results from some of the big U.S. banks, likely impacted by near record low interest rates and the pandemic-induced recession. JPMorgan & Co. <JPM.N> and Citigroup <C.N> both release results on Tuesday.

(Graphic: S&P 500 Q3 earnings look bad, but not as bad as Q2 – https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-STOCKS/azgvoaoyzvd/chart.png)

Overall, S&P 500 quarterly results tend to beat analysts’ cautious expectations, and they could do that even more than usual this reporting season, strategists said. In a break from the typical trend, guidance from U.S. companies has been more positive than negative and estimates have been improving in recent weeks to reflect more upbeat guidance.

Whether that will be enough to support stocks in the weeks ahead is up for debate.

“Very rarely in the last 10 years have we seen earnings estimates moving higher after a quarterly reporting season,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.

“That’s a very good sign. It’s a sign there’s a strong possibility this quarterly earnings season is now going to be better than expected,” he said. “The only problem is, now that we’ve entered the fourth quarter, a lot of the economic indicators are plateauing.”

That could weigh on fourth-quarter guidance and overshadow some of the better-than-expected results,

Initial Claims

There has very slight slight improvement in initial claims for six weeks.

For the weeks ending August 29, September 5, September 12, September 17, September 26, and October 3 there were 884,000, 893,000, 866,000, 873,000, 849,000, and 840,000 seasonally-adjusted claims respectively according to the Department of Labor.

Given margins of error on seasonally adjusted data there has been essentially no progress for six weeks.

Continued Claims

Continued State Unemployment Claims in 2020 October 7 Report

Continued claims lag initial claims by a week.

For the weeks ending August 29, September 5, September 17, and September 26, there were 13,554,000, 12,747,000, 12,747,000, 11,979,000, and 10,976,000 seasonally-adjusted claims respectively.

These numbers are continually revised.

The downward slope (pace of progress) has not changed since May. 

It’s continued state claims that determine the official unemployment rate, not that anyone of intelligence believes the BLS number.

All Continued Claims

All Continued Claims in 2020 Oct 7 Report

All Continued Claims are not seasonally adjusted. They also lag initial claims by two weeks and continued claims by a week.

The total for the latest week is 25.5million. This should realistically feed the U-6 unemployment rate but it doesn’t.

California Fraud

Bloomberg Econoday has this interesting blurb regarding California.

California is now offline when it comes to claims data as it scrambles to limit unemployment fraud. With the weekly estimate for the US’s largest state now frozen at a prior level of more than 260,000, forecasters see total initial claims easing slightly but not substantially to 819,000 in the October 3 week. This would compare with 837,000 in the prior week that saw only a small decline.

California unemployment fraud, who couldda possibly thunk that? 

Does fraud stop in California or is it pervasive?

Mish

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The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell for a second week while remaining elevated, as the labor market makes scant progress amid risks of further weakness without additional federal stimulus.

Initial jobless claims in regular state programs decreased by 9,000 to 840,000 in the week ended Oct. 3, with the prior week’s figure revised higher by 12,000, Labor Department figures showed Thursday. Continuing claims, the total number of Americans on state benefit rolls, fell to 11 million in the week ended Sept. 26, a bigger-than-expected drop.

In Massachusetts, more than 28,500 individuals filed new unemployment claims, up about 3,000 from the week prior.

Nearly 11,000 more applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits, which was on par with the previous week’s numbers. The federal program provides aid for gig workers and others who are not eligible for standard state unemployment.

Seven months into the pandemic, initial claims nationally are still about four times the pre-virus level, and higher than the peak of the 2007-09 recession. For the latest week, economists expected initial claims of 820,000 and for continuing claims of 11.4 million, according to median estimates in a Bloomberg survey.

The report came with the same major caveat as last week: The figures from California, the most populous state, used numbers identical to the previous week because the state temporarily halted acceptance of new applications for two weeks to improve its systems and address a backlog of filings.

The slight drop in new claims underscores the gradual improvement that the labor market has seen since the initial lockdowns of the pandemic eased. Even so, recent layoff announcements from companies including Walt Disney Co. and Allstate Corp. as well as multiple airlines could start showing up in the numbers in the coming weeks.

At the same time, President Trump’s mixed messages

Today’s DOL Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims indicates continued improvement in the insured employment situation even though the initial claims remain stubbornly high.

The non-seasonal adjusted initial claims at 804,307 are up by 5,312 when compared to the previous week. However, the non-seasonal adjusted continuous insured unemployed at 10,612,021 have again decreased significantly by 1,010,280 from last week’s reported figures.

Also, the total persons claiming some form of UI benefit as of September 19 are reported by the DOL as 25,505,499, a decrease of 1,003,179 from last week’s figure.

These figures signal a continued improvement to the return to work numbers which could indicate a slight easing of the Covid-19 recession (green line on graph).

The figure below shows that currently the lowest unemployment rate should be 15.9%. And, if one added the historic 2.6% UCR-PCR spread, then the actual unemployment rate should be 18.0%.

In the current Covid-19 situation, we believe that the only meaningful figures from DOL’s weekly report are:

  • The non-seasonal adjusted Insured Unemployed.
  • The total of all persons claiming unemployment benefits in all programs, which includes persons receiving Covid-19 relief who would normally not fall into the insured employed, e.g. self-employed tech workers.

In the figure above we graph the following:

  1. The monthly unemployment rate (UER) as published by the BLS, plotted 2 weeks earlier from the reporting date. (The May UER which is published beginning June is plotted from mid-May to mid-June.
  2. The insured unemployed rate (IUR) is the percentage of insured unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) of the labor force. (The number of insured unemployed is published every Thursday, looking back 2 weeks in the DOL’s weekly Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims report. The labor force is published monthly by the BLS with the Employment Situation Summary.)
  3. The unemployed persons claiming rate (PCR) is the percentage