LONDON (SHARECAST) - US weekly jobless claims came in below expectations for the best reading since February 2008.
US initial unemployment claims fell by 30,000 to 339,000 last week according to the latest data from he US Labor Department. The figure is well below the market consensus estimate of 370,000. The previous week's reading was revised just a touch higher to 369,000 from 367,000.
The four-week moving average fell by 11,500 to 364,000 compared to the previous week's revised reading of 375,500.
The insured unemployment rate remained steady at 2.6%.
Continuous unemployment claims, which includes those claims not filed for the first time, fell by 15,000 to 3,273,000. The market was expecting a reading of 3,275,000. The previous week's reading was revised to 3,288,000 from 3,281,000.
The four-week moving average fell by 7,750 to 3,279,250, down from the previous week's reading of 3,287,000.
"Overall, the jobs data for the first week of October is clearly positive. This uplifting news comes on top of the positive monthly employment report for September. The labour market is showing signs of improvement, which should help Obama in his run for re-election. Jobs is the key issue," said Digital Look analyst Francisco Miñana.
Along the same lines, Michael Gapen of Barclays Research notes improvement in the longer-term trend. "Given the potential noise associated with the start of the quarter and the application of seasonal factors, we suggest focusing on the longer-term trends. There, the modest improvement in the four-week moving average in initial claims from 376k last week to 364k this week is more consistent with the marginal uptick in the rate of payroll growth in Q3 versus Q2. The four-week moving average is now only 1k above the post-crisis low achieved during the week ending March 31," he said.