Unemployment Claims, Hollywood, Global Markets

December 31, 2015

Thursday – December 31

New unemployment claims rose sharply last week, the highest level since July. The increase might be a direct result of temporary holiday employment. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 287,000 for the week ended Dec. 26, the Labor Department said. Despite the increase, claims have been below 300,000 for 43 consecutive weeks–the longest stretch since the early 1970s–which is considered good.

One sure sign of a strengthening economy is Hollywood’s $11 billion record-breaking year at the box office. As moviegoers flocked to the year’s films in droves, the spoils go to two dominant movie churners: Universal Pictures and Walt Disney. In contrast, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Sony Corp. and Lions Gate had a year that should go straight to VHS with losses across the board. Higher ticket prices commanded by luxury seating and high-tech screens aided the boon.

Finally, in the last day of 2015 trading, global markets bid adieu to a lackluster year without a rallying cry. European shares as well as Japanese and Shanghai stocks ended up. U.S. Stock markets will trade on a full day today. Will they end the year on a positive note? At the opening bell, the S&P 500 was fighting to remain positive, the Nasdaq was up, and the Dow was down in 2015. Bond markets close early at 2 p.m. EST. Markets will be closed tomorrow in observance of New Year’s Day.