Recapping the day's news and newsmakers through the lens of CNBC.
Stocks soar as jobless claims and layoffs fall
There are surprises, and then there are Surprises, capital S. Put today's jobless claims in the second category—good enough to spark a surge in U.S. stocks that lifted the S&P 500 above 1,700 for the first time.
The Labor Department reported that the number of people filing new unemployment claims fell to a five-and-a-half year low last week, suggesting that the labor market really is improving.
Initial claims dropped by 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted level of 326,000, while economists had forecast 345,000. The claims figure was the lowest since January 2008.
July figures are notoriously volatile, because auto plants often shut down for retooling. But, perhaps because auto sales are so strong, it looks like carmakers have shortened the retooling time or skipped it. That could throw off the government's seasonal adjustments. At any rate, manufacturing seems to be strong. A report from The Institute of Supply Management said its index of manufacturing activity rose in July to its highest level in two years.
Also today, a report from Challenger Gray & Christmas said that employers have announced 296,633 layoffs this year through July, down from 319,946 in the same period last year. At the current pace, layoffs this year could come in below the 2012 level, which was the lowest since 1997.
"There is no doubt as we look at this [unemployment] number it is good news. There is no doubt as you look at Challenger's layoffs moderating, it is good news."
—CNBC's Rick Santelli
"We have not seen a number like 326,000 since before the recession. ... There is some hope in this number. ... All of the job data is pointing toward relative strength."
—CNBC's Steve Liesman
"The rising asset prices will help instill confidence and that will breed more confidence."
—Matthew Kaufler, portfolio manager of Federated Investors' Clover Value Fund