Futures pulling markets after jobless claims


Futures market are pulling Thursday’s stock markets down. The cause correlates to the US government reporting glum jobless claims numbers. Another 861,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, a jump from the week before and higher than expected.

The total of those receiving benefits dropped by 1.3 million to 18.34 million, primarily due to a falloff in those on Covid-19 pandemic-related claims in the final week of January. However, those numbers have accelerated in early February.

“We’re still at the mercy of the virus, so it’s still a bifurcated economy,” said Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab.

Big box retailer, Walmart also reported earnings that missed forecasts and issued a disappointing sales outlook. Walmart’s stock was down 5% in early trading Thursday.

During the fiscal 2021 year, Walmart reported total revenue of $559.2 billion, up $35.2 billion, or 6.7% from a year ago. For the quarter, the closely-followed same-store sales figure came in at 8.6% in the U.S., versus estimates of 5% growth. Sales were spurred by the continued boom in electronic commerce, which grew 69% from a year ago in the quarter.

The closely-followed same-store sales figure came in at 8.6%, ahead of expectations on a “robust” holiday season and an uptick in January because of the stimulus checks. In the U.S., transactions declined 10.9% in the quarter as customers made fewer trips, while the average ticket jumped 21.9% as shoppers stocked up during those visits.

In terms of merchandise, grocery sales posted high single-digit comparables, as stores increased their hours and saw better in-stocks. Food sales were strong across categories, while household chemicals and paper products continued to show strengths. Walmart’s grocery pickup and delivery saw record-high sales volumes again in the quarter as customers shift toward e-commerce options.

The pharmacy also saw its comp sales growth in the mid-single digits, while general merchandise posted low double-digit growth. The general merchandise category performance benefitted from customers looking for comfort, leisure, and recreation across electronics, sporting goods, toys, and outdoor living. Walmart said stimulus spending benefitted its January sales.