NEW YORK New claims for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, a government report showed on Thursday, pointing to a labor market that is struggling to regain momentum after job growth faltered in the last two months.
PAUL BALLEW,CHIEF ECONOMIST, NATIONWIDE INSURANCE, COLUMBUS, OHIO
"Our big threshold was 425,000 -- 425,000 or lower would be viewed as relatively positive. But it's telling us the labor market is still sluggish; it's nothing to ride home about."
"You get a little bit of concern if we saw further deterioration to the 425,000 or 430,000 range. We look at the situation as being very consistent with a pretty tepid labor market. But not seeing further deterioration in numbers is a little bit of a positive."
"We think the second half will show gradual improvement...We anticipate to see payroll growth."
"It's consistent with the recovery, we expect to see a stronger second half."
"There's just so much going on with the market today, with the negotiation settlement with Greece, decent earnings reports as another plus, there's a lot of focus on other things."
"They're going to interpret what happens today if a deal comes through as a positive. The euro is showing some strength, any agreement that takes noise away from the Greece situation is going to be viewed as positive, but it's still a very long road ahead."
JOHN SILVIA, CHIEF ECONOMIST WELLS FARGO, CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
"I think we are stuck in low gear. It just doesn't appear that there is a real clear breakout trend...if you look at the four week average, it has come down a little in the last few weeks, but you didn't see that break out that some people were hoping for or expecting in the second half of the year.
"Jobless claims are a leading economic indicator. These numbers don't support the case for having 3.5 to 4 percent growth in the second half of the year that some people had talked about. The economy is moving forward at a modest pace but we don't seem to be picking up momentum."
MARK MCCORMICK, CURRENCY STRATEGIST, BROWN BROTHERS HARRIMAN, NEW YORK
"The jobless data is a bit soft. We're not seeing the high frequency jobs data moving in the right direction. But the focus is on the euro zone. An extension of the loans for Greece and increased flexibility for the ESFS to recapitalize institutions takes the heat of the ECB. It's definitely positive for the euro. It's not a panacea but it's a step in the right direction. We might target $1.4350 over the next day or two."
JEFFREY GREENBERG, ECONOMIST, NOMURA SECURITIES, NEW YORK
"We're just stuck in this trend between 410,000 and 430,000. Generally we're just really not seeing any improvement but also not much worsening, so neither discouraging nor encouraging. It's important that this is the week for the nonfarm payrolls survey and there's a slight improvement of 11,000.
"In that sense it does seem stronger than the payrolls number than we saw in June. We'll expect a bounce.
"The jobless claims number that you would need to have the unemployment rate worsen is something a bit higher. Like 450,000."
MARK LAMKIN, CEO OF LAMKIN WEALTH MANAGEMENT IN LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY
"Initial claims rose, but I don't think that was too unexpected. This isn't a shocker and won't move the market either way."