Initial claims had jumped over the 400K level the past few weeks, after 2 months of mostly staying below that level.  This morning's 474K figure was from out of left field vs expectations of 410K.  Time to panic?  Too early to tell - some of this could be due to the tornado situation in the southeast last week.  But it seems clear the economy has taken a turn downward the past 8 weeks - in perfect relation to the spike in gasoline prices over the $3.75ish level.

These claims figures won't impact tomorrow's numbers.... but the clouds should be forming over next month's report.

Ironically all those economists calling for 3.5-4.0% GDP in Q1 (which instead came in at 1.8%), now have to look deep into their souls at the Kool Aid they have been drinking about Q2 and full year 2011.  Especially with the ISM Non Manufacturing figure we saw yesterday.  The Bernank's QE programs continue to harm the REAL economy even as it creates new misallocations of capital on Wall Street.

(h/t for chart to ZH)