U.S. Jobless Claims Show Modest Drop But Still Far Exceed Estimates

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New claims for U.S. unemployment benefits showed a modest decrease in the second week of April, but revised data for the previous week put the level of initial jobless claims significantly higher than most economists had predicted.

According to a report released by Labor Department on Thursday, new unemployment claims for the week ended April 14th came in at a seasonally adjusted level of 386,000.

The figure for the latest week reflects a decrease of 2,000 compared to the previous week's revised level of 388,000 new claims. However, the revised figures for the previous week were above initial estimates that put the level of new claims for the week at 380,000.

Most economists had expected the level of new claims to fall from the initially reported figure to a level of 365,000 for the week ended April 14th.

Peter Boockvar, managing director at Miller Tabak, said, "Bottom line, the last two weeks reflect a reversal of the slow but steady drop in the amount of those filing for unemployment insurance that we've been seeing since November."

"It's only two weeks, so way too early to declare a fresh deterioration, but it definitely bears watching because if the pace of firing's start to pick up again, it certainly says something about what the pace of hiring's will be," he added.

The Labor Department said that its less volatile four-week moving average rose to 374,750 from the previous week's revised average of 369,250.

With the increase, the four-week moving average rose to its highest level since the week ended January 28th.

Continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, also rose to 3.297 million in the week ended April 7th from the preceding week's revised level of 3.271 million.

On the other hand, the four-week moving average of continuing claims slipped to 3,317,750 from the preceding week's revised average of 3,339,250.

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