US revises up number of jobless claims

Julian Harris
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CLAIMS for unemployment benefit in the US have been revised upwards, and came in above the expectations of economists for the latest week of data available.

New jobless claims were reported at 382,000 last week, yet the figure should have been 394,000, government sources said yesterday.

For the week ending 26 March, 388,000 new benefit claims were made. Economists had expected the figure to drop to around 380,000.

The underlying trend, a four-week moving average, rose to 394,000, from 391,000 the previous week.

“The revisions suggest that the improvement in labour market conditions over the past three months has been slightly less robust than the previous data indicated,” said Michael Gapen of Barclays Capital.

“But overall we characterise the revisions to initial claims data as minor, and they do not alter our view that labour market conditions continue to improve at a modest pace,” Gapen added.

There was more disappointing news for the US recovery yesterday, as new factory orders dipped unexpectedly in February, the Commerce Department revealed – reversing three straight months of gains.

New orders for manufactured goods fell 0.1 per cent to $446bn (£278bn), after an upwardly revised 3.3 per cent gain in January.

Meanwhile, the Chicago purchasing managers’ index slowed to 70.6 in March, down from its 22-year high of 71.2 in February.

The index is the last main regional indicator before the national Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index, and can be used as bellwether for the national manufacturing sector’s health.

There was good news in neighbouring Canada, as the manufacturing sector helped stimulate GDP growth of 0.5 per cent for January, Statistics Canada said yesterday.