Long-term interest rates stayed about the same (mortgages 6 percent, 10-year Treasury 3.84 percent) as markets quarreled over the meaning of a new mountain of data. The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate in April declined to 5 percent, and payrolls lost only 20,000 jobs. For all the attention paid to this report each month, it often wildly mis-describes the economy; this one was so weird that not even economic optimists are crowing. In authentic news, claims for unemployment insurance jumped 35,000 to a cycle-high 380,000, total on benefits to a five-year, 3-million high. The Fed's post-meeting statement laid it out: "Economic activity remains weak." Those who expected the Fed to identify a cycle-end, a rebound in sight, were mistaken. First-quarter ...
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