Jobless claims in US rise less than expected

THE DOLLAR enjoyed a slight boost yesterday after the number of Americans making first-time claims for unemployment benefits rose less than expected.

The US government said initial jobless claims increased by just 1,000 to 434,000 in the week ending 2 January, supporting hopes that the struggling job market is bottoming out. The seasonally adjusted figure represented an improvement on analysts’ expectations of an 8,000 gain and followed two consecutive weeks of decline, during which claims fell to their lowest level since July 2008.

The four-week moving average, a less volatile measure than the weekly data, was at its lowest since September 2008, falling 10,250 to 450,250 from the previous week’s revised average.

The figures indicated the improving economic outlook is discouraging companies from the brutal rate of job cuts experienced during the worst of the recession. Meanwhile the number of Americans receiving continuing claims in the week ending December 26 – the most recent data available – was down to just over 4.8m from almost 5m the week before.

But all eyes were waiting for today’s monthly figures which will reveal the unemployment rate for December.