US jobless claims steady as trade deficit narrows

THE NUMBER of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits was steady last week, while the US trade deficit narrowed slightly in August.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dipped 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 404,000, the Labor Department said yesterday, just below economists’ expectations.

A separate report from the Commerce Department on the trade balance confirmed the economy avoided a recession in the third quarter, with the growth pace expected to have accelerated from the April-June period’s anemic 1.3 per cent rate.

The US trade deficit edged down to $45.61bn in August from $45.63bn the prior month. Economists said trade could add as much 0.4 percentage points to third-quarter GDP.

The trade gap with China widened to a record high $29bn in August, which could hand the US Congress ammunition as it considers legislation to penalise China for its trade and currency practices.