We got some timely data on the economy today ... data that suggest the economy is struggling. A few details:
* Initial jobless claims filings jumped to 378,000 in the most recent week from 356,000 a week earlier. That's the highest reading yet for this cycle. If you exclude the weeks that followed Hurricane Katrina in 2005, this is also the highest reading since February 2004 (shown in the chart above).
* The Philly Fed index came in at -17.4 in March. True, that's up from -24 in February, but it's well off year ago levels of 0.20. Moreover, the internals of the report were weak. The new orders sub-index came in at -9.3 (the third month in a row of negative readings), while the employment sub-index registered -4.7. That's the worst reading since June 2003.