More bad news for the markets: US jobless figures are up again

The latest weekly US data on initial jobless claims is just out.

If you’re a regular reader of Money Morning or our blog, you’ll know that we’ve been keeping a close eye on this data. That’s because it’s a pretty good indicator as to where the US economy and stock market are heading.

And this week’s numbers don’t make for reassuring reading. The weekly figure was worse than expected. Jobless claims rose by 13,000 people to 472,000. That was compared to forecasts for a fall to 455,000.

Meanwhile, the four-week moving average (which smoothes out the volatility) rose by 3,250 to 466,500. That’s the worst figure since early March.

The red line on the chart below (which I’ve updated in the absence of my colleague David Stevenson) shows the four-week moving average of initial jobless claims. This has been inverted – when it rises on the chart, US dole queues are getting shorter, and vice versa. The green line is the S&P 500 index.

The latest dip certainly seems to coincide with investors’ generally gloomier disposition. If claims keep rising, the stock market really has only one way to go.