Stocks quoted in this article:
The clear signs of the tightest labor market in three decades continue to be borne out in the data. Earlier today, the Labor Department released its initial unemployment claims numbers for the week ended December 25. Initial claims were 274,000, down from revised 283,000 for the preceding week. That brings the four-week moving average of the measure to 279,750, its lowest level since mid-1973, a span of more than 26 years. Analysts had expected a rise to 285,000. The Christmas holiday is surely part of the equation as consumers eager to earn additional shopping money go to work rather than file for unemployment. Additionally, unemployment continues near a 30-year low and the initial jobless claims numbers have been below 300,000 for an unprecedented 12 consecutive weeks. In a separate release, the Conference Board's November help wanted advertising index was 85 versus 86 in October, still quite high by historical standards. However, the index is lower than the 89 recorded a year ago, possibly indicating that the pace of hiring is dropping somewhat in response to the lack of qualified candidates.