business news in context, analysis with attitude

•  From the Associated Press:

"The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits came back down last week, hovering near levels suggesting the US labor market has been largely unaffected by the Federal Reserve’s aggressive interest rate hikes.

"Applications for jobless aid fell to 225,000 for the week ending Nov. 26, a decline of 16,000 from the previous week’s 241,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The four-week moving average of claims, which evens out week-to-week swings, inched up by 1,750 to 227,000.

"Applications for unemployment benefits are a proxy for layoffs, and viewed with other employment data, shows that American workers are enjoying extraordinary job security at the moment, despite an economy with some glaring weaknesses."

•  And, from the Washington Post:

"The cost of gasoline is falling so fast that it is beginning to put real money back in the pockets of drivers, defying earlier projections and offering an unexpected gift for the holidays.

"Filling up is now as cheap as it was in February, just before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine touched off a global energy crisis. AAA reported the average nationwide price of a gallon of regular Wednesday was $3.50, and gas price tracking company GasBuddy projected it could drop below $3 by Christmas. And all of that relief probably helped drive robust shopping over Thanksgiving weekend.

"'People are realizing that they might be back to spending $50 to fill their tank instead of $80,' said Emma Rasiel, a professor of economics at Duke University. 'It is the main signal consumers notice on inflation. It is the one thing they are likely to track, how much it has gone up or down, because every week they need to fill up their car'."

The Post notes that "Rasiel cautioned that less-expensive gas can also give consumers the wrong idea. Prices of other goods and services are much less volatile, and there is no indication that this moment of more-affordable fuel is pushing the cost of other things down.

"Even as the plunge in prices at the pump helps fuel a national holiday shopping spree, it is a reflection of the financial strain consumers and businesses are confronting worldwide. Prices are going down because demand for oil and gas is falling as countries brace for recession, coronavirus outbreaks in China threaten major financial disruption and drivers cut back on gas-guzzling as they try to save money to cover skyrocketing mortgage payments and stock market losses."

• From Axios:

"The jobs market stayed solid last month: Employers added 263,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate held at 3.7%, near the lowest level in a half-century, the Labor Department said on Friday.

"Why it matters: The figures are the latest signal of a roaring labor market that continues to defy fears of a recession.

"November's payroll gains are above the addition of 200,000 jobs that economists had expected."

KC's View:

Nice to see, in this holiday season, that the lights at the end of the tunnel may not be an oncoming train.

There is a lot of chatter out there that the US may be able to avoid a recession, or that there could be a so-called soft landing that will minimize the economic harm to most Americans.  Which would be extraordinary, considering all the "sky is falling" rhetoric that has been dominating the discourse.