Jobless claims slide in the US as the economic outlook starts to brighten
THE NUMBER of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, suggesting recent gains in employment are being sustained.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 15,000 to 358,000, the Labor Department said yesterday.
A four-week average of new filings, which provides a better view of the trend, hit its lowest level since April 2008.
The decline in claims, which defied economists’ forecasts for a rise to 370,000, pointed to building strength in the labour market and raised the odds of another solid increase in employment this month.
“It not only validates the gains that we had last month … but it shows that we are likely to add to those gains in a meaningful way in February,” said Millan Mulraine, senior macro strategist at TD Securities.
The economy added 243,000 jobs in January and the unemployment rate dropped to a three-year low of 8.3 per cent.
Meanwhile inventories at US wholesalers grew one per cent in December, suggesting the economy received a bigger boost than expected in the fourth quarter from companies restocking their shelves.
The figure, reported yesterday by the Commerce Department, beat analysts’ expectations of a 0.4 per cent gain.