Fewer Employed Government Workers Means Fewer Economic Releases

Oct. 3 (Bloomberg) -- On today's "Insight & Action," Adam Johnson looks at how the Citi Economic Surprise Index works. He speaks on Bloomberg Television's "Street Smart." (Source: Bloomberg)

Since tomorrow's monthly unemployment report is postponed, today we focus on what we do know from recent government data. Citigroup aggregates all economic releases in its cumulative Economic Surprise Index, where better than expected data adds to the index and worse data subtracts. The most recent reading is 51.7, which is near the top of the range for the past year.

Given these upside surprises, we can hardly be surprised Leading Economic Indicators have also been trending higher (LEI include forward-looking data points like manufacturing new orders, building permits, capital goods orders and M2 Money Supply):

Most importantly, fewer people are filing jobless claims: 308,000 last week compared to 607,000 in March 2009. The current four-week average is the lowest in six years.

We say "most important" because stocks have an uncanny correlation to claims:

So data is consistently beating to the upside, leading indicators are trending higher and fewer people are filing jobless claims. We will miss getting additional government data on a timely basis, but the current trends speak volumes. As former BoE economist John Ryding told us on air on Wednesday, "We'll still get private data like ADP and Markit PMI, and these numbers also tell us the economy is improving."

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