US Unemployment Claims Hit Three Month Low

The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits hit a three-month low last week, suggesting some strength in a labor market that has been hobbled by severe weather.

Other data on Thursday showed a second straight monthly decline in factory orders in January, likely because unusually cold and snowy weather disrupted activity.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits tumbled 26,000 to a seasonally adjusted 323,000, their lowest level since the end of November, the Labor Department said.

“Initial claims returned to a more normal level, consistent with healthy labor market conditions,” said Yelena Shulyatyeva, an economist at BNP Paribas in New York.

Stocks on Wall Street were trading high on the claims data, while prices for U.S. Treasury debt fell. The dollar rose against the yen, but fell versus the euro as the European Central Bank kept interest rates on hold.

The drop in first-time claims exceeded economists’ expectations and suggested labor market fundamentals remain relatively strong, despite other data that have shown cold temperatures dampened hiring in recent months.

A closely watched government report on employment due on Friday is expected to show weather weighed on jobs growth for a third straight month in February, although not as heavily as in the prior two months.

via Reuters

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Alfonso Esparza

Alfonso Esparza

Senior Currency Analyst at Market Pulse
Alfonso Esparza specializes in macro forex strategies for North American and major currency pairs. Upon joining OANDA in 2007, Alfonso Esparza established the MarketPulseFX blog and he has since written extensively about central banks and global economic and political trends. Alfonso has also worked as a professional currency trader focused on North America and emerging markets. He has been published by The MarketWatch, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal and The Globe and Mail, and he also appears regularly as a guest commentator on networks including Bloomberg and BNN. He holds a finance degree from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM) and an MBA with a specialization on financial engineering and marketing from the University of Toronto.
Alfonso Esparza