US jobless claims fall unexpectedly to six-year low

The number of people signing up for unemployment benefits in the US for the first time fell unexpectedly in the week to 10 August 2013.

Some 320,000 people began claiming in the week, down from a revised 335,000 the week before. Analysts had expected to see 335,000.

The total number of people claiming unemployment benefits as of 3 August 2013 was 2.969m, down from 3.023m the week before. Analysts had expected to see a fall to 3.0m.

For a sense of what this means, take a look at this graph tweeted by Quartz writer Matthew Phillips showing that initial jobless claims are nearly at pre-crisis levels.

The strong result prompted fears that the Federal Reserve would begin tapering off its asset purchase programme imminently.