Jobs again dominated the economic and political environment with the unemployment rate skyrocketing to 14.7%, which was slightly better than the 16% consensus forecast but was more than a 10% rise in unemployment in a single month catapulting the rate from 50-year lows to the worst since the Great Depression. The rate would have been nearly 5% worse had if certain workers hadn’t been classified as “employed, but absent from work” and April’s 20.5M job losses erase the last decade of job creation.
Initial jobless claims for the first week in May came in slightly worse than expectations, at nearly 3.2M. While this is the best result seen in over a month, it is still over 4.7x worse than the worst claims week during the global financial crisis.
Since less awful news is the new great news, the S&P 500 rose 3.5% for the week, including a 1.69% gain following them both better than expected, and historically bad, unemployment release.
Over 85% of the S&P 500 have reported Q1 earnings, and it hasn’t been that bad. Earnings beats are at rates below 5-year averages, but earnings are coming in at 2.3% above estimates, though that is a fairly brutal -13.6% decline in the first quarter. If this figure holds through the end of the earnings season, it would be the worst year-over-year decline since the global financial crisis and the 4th time in the last five quarters where aggregate earnings have declined.