The US was weaker across the board on Friday, following a sell off after a batch of soft US economic on Thursday which raised concerns about the strength of the economy.
Initial jobless claims rose more than expected for the week ending May 16. According to a report released by the US Department of Labor, the number of Americans applying for initial jobless benefits in the week rose by 10,000 to 274,000 from the previous week’s total of 264,000. Economists had expected initial jobless claims to rise by 7,000 to 271,000 last week.
Following from the disappointing jobless claims data, US existing home sales figures were also soft. The National Association of Realtors reported that existing home sales fell 3.3% in April to 5.04 million units from the previous month’s revised total of 5.21 million units. Analysts had expected existing home sales to rise 1.0% to 5.24 million units last month.
More downbeat data came from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia that said its manufacturing index declined to 6.7 this month from a reading of 7.5 in April, confounding expectations for a rise to 8.0.
The weak string of data led to pessimism about when the Fed would start to hike rates.
The data came after Wednesday’s minutes of the Fed’s April meeting did little to alter expectations that the Fed will hold off on raising rates until later this year. Most analysts changed their expectations from June to September.
Market focus now shifts to Friday’s US inflation data and then a speech by Fed Chair Janet Yellen to look for any clues and insights on how the US economy is performing.
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