U.S. Jobless Claims Increase Much Slower than Expected

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U.S. Jobless Claims Increase Much Slower than ExpectedThe number of fresh applications for unemployment claims in the U.S. increased at a slower pace than expected, while the four-week moving average of the jobless claims touched the weakest level since 2000.

The initial claims for the jobless benefits rose 14,000 to 281,000 in the week through April 4, reported the Labor Department on Thursday. This was the fifth consecutive week that the applications have stayed under 300,000, a level that is tied to an improving job market,

“The claims data provide no confirmation of the March employment slowdown,” John Ryding, a New York-based chief economist at RDQ Economics, told Reuters.

Payrolls grew by 126,000 in March, the first time the figure was less than 200,000 in 12 months. However, since sectors that recorded weak job growth were in weather-sensitive sectors such as construction and leisure, economists considered the slowdown as a fluke.

The four-week moving average of unemployment claims, which is viewed as a much better indicator of job market activity as it smoothens out weekly volatility, plunged 3,000 to 282,250 last week, its weakest level since June 2000. Economists expected the claims to increase to 285,000.

The Fed report also indicated that the number of individuals still on jobless benefits plunged 23,000 to 2.3 million in the week through March 28, the lowest figure since December 2000.

In a separate report released by the Commerce Department, U.S. wholesale inventories grew in February while sales lagged forecasts, indicating wholesalers may not heavily invest in stocks in the coming months.

Wholesale stocks rose 0.3 percent in February after jumping 0.4 percent the previous month. Sales dropped by 0.2 percent in February, an improvement from a 3.6 percent decline in January. To register for a free 2-week subscription to ForexMinute Premium Plan, visit www.forexminute.com/newsletter.

To contact the reporter of this story; Jonathan Millet at john@forexminute.com