US jobless claimants fall in boost for economy

City A.M. Reporter
Initial claims for US jobless benefits hit a four-month low last week, while the trade gap narrowed more than expected in September, hopeful signs for an economy that has been stuck in a slow-growth rut.

The number of workers filing initial claims for unemployment benefits fell to a seasonally adjusted 435,000 in the week to 6 November from a revised 459,000 for the prior week, the Labour Department announced.

The bigger-than-expected dropped was underscored by the four-week moving average of claims which fell to its lowest since just before Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy in September 2008 in the depths of the financial crisis.

Meanwhile, a separate Commerce Department report showed the US trade deficit narrowed more than expected in September, despite near record imports from China, as a weak US dollar helped American exports grow for the third consecutive month.

A narrower deficit is positive for US economic growth since it suggests more demand is being met by US production.

A third government report showed a jump in petroleum prices in October pushed overall import prices to their highest since April, but the rise was less than analysts expected.

US stock index futures turned positive after the reports, while US Treasury debt prices added to losses. The U.S. dollar added to gains against the euro and yen.

"Jobless looks a little better than expected. The trend seems to be getting better, though certainly there's way too many as far as unemployed out there," said Jay Suskind, senior vice president at Duncan-Williams in Jersey City, New Jersey.