US data confirms steady recovery

The number of US workers filing new claims for jobless aid fell last week as the labour market gradually heals and producer price data showed inflation remained muted, despite a surge in food costs last month. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 24,000 to a seasonally adjusted 456,000, the Labor Department said yesterday, resuming a downward trend that had been interrupted by the Easter holiday. In a second report, the department said prices paid at the farm and factory gate increased 0.7 per cent in March following a 0.6 per cent drop in February on strong food and gasoline costs.