US initial jobless claims fall slightly
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell slightly last week, according to data released on Thursday by the Labor Department.
Initial jobless claims declined by 4,000 from the previous week’s revised level to 228,000. Economists were expecting a level of 235,000. The previous week’s level was revised up by 2,000.
Meanwhile, the four-week moving average was 237,500, up 250 from the previous week's level, which was revised up by 500 from 236,750.
The four-week average is considered more reliable as it smooths out sharp fluctuations in the more volatile weekly figures, giving a more accurate picture of the health of the labour market.
Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: "The distortions caused by the annual automakers’ summer shutdowns have now faded, and claims appear to be settling into a range from about 230K-to-250K.
"The seasonals suggested that the next couple weeks will see claims move towards the top of the range, and a modest extra temporary boost from Hurricane Idalia is a decent bet too. The big test will come later in the fall, if consumption spending slows markedly after the restart of student loan payments, and business activity sags under the weight of the Fed’s cumulative tightening.
"Some investors and the commentariat have been too quick, in our view, to argue that the full effect of the rate hikes has worked through; history suggests more pain is to come.
"In the short-term, though, the claims numbers are no threat to continued job growth around the 200K mark, which also is consistent with the message from the NFIB hiring intentions index."