US employment numbers continue to raise concern. Last week’s Unemployment Claims rose to 315 thousand, the largest number of claims in 10 weeks. The reading was much higher than the estimate of 306 thousand. This follows soft numbers from JOLTS Job Openings and a dismal Nonfarm Payrolls last week. The troubling job numbers are unlikely to affect the Fed’s plan to trim QE next week, but a weak labor market could postpone plans to raise interest rates by mid-2015.
Over in Japan, after some disappointing manufacturing indicators earlier this week, the BSI Manufacturing Index provided some sorely needed positive news. The index bounced back from a reading of -13.9 points in Q1, rising to 12.7 points in Q2. This surprised the markets, which had expected the indicator to fall to -10.3 points. With zero separating contraction from expansion, the indicator points to surprisingly strong optimism from large Japanese manufacturers. Earlier in the week, Core Machinery Orders came in at 3.5%, sharply down from 8.8% in the previous release. This followed a weak reading from Tertiary Industry Activity, which posted a flat reading of 0.0%.