US benefit claims at four year low

New US claims for unemployment benefits fell to a fresh four-year low last week, according to a government report published yesterday that showed ongoing improvement in the labour market. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 359,000, the lowest level since April 2008. The prior week's figure was revised up to 364,000 from the previously reported 348,000. The four-week moving average for new claims, a measure of labour market trends, declined 3,500 to 365,000. Meanwhile, separate official figures confirmed that the US economy grew at an annualised rate of three per cent in the fourth quarter of 2011.