Relief over latest US data on jobs

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose slightly last week, allaying fears of a major setback in the labour market recovery.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 352,000 the Labor Department said yesterday. The prior week’s number was revised to show 2,000 more applications than previously reported.

A Labor Department analyst said claims for California and Kentucky had been estimated.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Despite the increase last week, which was broadly in line with economists’ expectations, claims held near a level economists normally associate with average monthly job gains of more than 150,000.

That helped to further ease concerns of a deterioration in labour market conditions after nonfarm payrolls posted their smallest increase in nine months in March.

“We had a lot of volatility since the end of the quarter. This is a fairly clean, stable number. There is some slight strengthening in labour conditions but nothing dramatic,” said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpont Securities in Stamford, Connecticut.

The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book of economic conditions released on Wednesday said employment conditions remained unchanged or improved somewhat.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

US stock index futures added to gains on the claims data. US Treasury debt prices and the dollar were little changed.

The four-week moving average for new claims, a better measure of labour market trends, rose 2,750 to 361,250.