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Initial Jobless Claims Fell To Pandemic Era Low As Jobs Market Continues To Recover

Initial Jobless Claims Fell To Pandemic Era Low As Jobs Market Continues To Recover

Plus, Nikola shares are up after announcing a collaboration on hydrogen fueling stations with TravelCenters of America, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines reported earnings, and Amazon could soon bring its cashierless checkout technology to its full-size grocery stores.

Stocks were mixed at the open on Thursday with the Dow sliding lower by 27 points, or just under 0.1%. The S&P 500 fell less than 0.1%, while the Nasdaq traded just above the flatline.

Jobless claims unexpectedly fell to a fresh pandemic low as the job recovery gains steam. The Labor Department reported initial claims of 547,000 in the week ended April 17, falling by 39,000 from the week prior, while economists estimated a ready of 610,000 claims. “This dip in jobless claims looks good in isolation but what really matters is that it confirms that last week’s unexpected plunge was no fluke,” Pantheon Macroeconomics chief economist Ian Shepherdson said. “We expect further declines over the next few months as the reopening continues, while payroll growth will accelerate markedly.” Some 17.4 million Americans are still receiving benefits under various programs, while around 8 million fewer Americans are in the workforce than before COVID.

Nikola shares are up nearly 20% this morning after announcing a limited collaboration on hydrogen fueling stations with TravelCenters of America. The plan includes installing hydrogen fueling stations for heavy-duty trucks at two sites in California, with the initial stations serving as “a first step for the parties to explore the mutual development of a nationwide network,” Nikola said in a press release. “Today we announce an important advancement in enabling the growth of heavy-duty fuel-cell electric vehicles by partnering with a leader in commercial fueling sites and high quality customer services,” said Pablo Koziner, Nikola’s President of Energy and Commercial. “Our collaboration in southern California will form a basis for building an expanded network of hydrogen fueling stations for Nikola vehicle customers and for industry use overall. This collaboration forms an essential part in delivering the hydrogen-based ecosystem required to advance zero emission solutions for commercial trucks.”

American Airlines posted its fifth consecutive quarterly loss this morning, while Southwest Airlines swung to a profit on federal payroll aid. American posted a $1.25 billion net loss as revenue came in just over $4 billion. “The pandemic is far from over. We have to continue to fight like never before and ensure that when the green flag drops, American is out in front,” American CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom said in a note to employees. “But as our world makes daily strides in COVID-19 vaccination efforts, customers are returning to travel and there is no doubt the pace of the recovery is accelerating.” Southwest’s revenue fell to $2.05 billion with an adjusted loss of $1.72 per share. “While the pandemic is not over, we believe the worst is behind us in terms of the severity of the negative impact on travel demand,” said Southwest CEO Gary Kelly in a statement. “We are experiencing steady weekly improvements in domestic leisure bookings, which began in mid-February 2021.”

Also in earnings news, Credit Suisse reported a net loss of 252 million Swiss francs (or $275 million) for the first quarter this morning, with the loss reflecting a “significant charge with report to the U.S.-based hedge fund matter in 1Q21, offsetting positive performance across wealth management and investment banking,” referring to the Archegos Capital scandal. The Swiss bank said it will raise $2 billion from investors to shore up capital depleted by the Archegos collapse, and is planning a sweeping overhaul of its prime business in an effort to protect other parts of the investment bank, which had a banner quarter. CEO Thomas Gottstein said the quarter was “one of our best quarters in the history of Credit Suisse. Definitely the best quarter in the last 10 years. The loss we had in Archegos was unacceptable and we had to take actions in terms of management changes. We are reducing our exposure in this business, we are reviewing our risk, controls and systems in that area.”

And Amazon is bringing its cashierless checkout technology to its full-size Fresh supermarkets, planning documents for a store under construction in Brookfield, Connecticut revealed. The automated checkout technology, dubbed “Just Walk Out,” has so far only appeared in Amazon Go convenience stores. The technology allows customers to swipe a smartphone at the entry gate and their purchases are tracked by cameras, software algorithms, and shelf sensors. Shoppers are then charged for the goods they are when they exit through designated gates. Amazon opened its first Fresh grocery store in Los Angeles last September, and has since opened a dozen of the stores across southern California and in several suburbs of Chicago, with plans to open several stores on the East Coast.

Stocks We’re Watching

NeoGenomics Inc (NASDAQ: NEO): NeoGenomics shares are up 4% over the last week after biopharma stock announced the launch of an Amgen-sponsored testing program to support single-gene molecular testing for the biomarker KRAS G12C for eligible lung cancer patients at no cost to the patient. “Biomarkers such as KRAS G12C increasingly serve as a critical tool to identify the personalized treatment strategy for cancer patients,” said Mark Mallon, NeoGenomics’ Chief Executive Officer. “We look forward to leveraging our broad capabilities and reach in U.S. clinical oncology along with Amgen to help accelerate awareness and the importance of biomarker testing to further current and developmental therapeutics and support the cancer community we serve.”

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