The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, indicating the jobs market was on solid footing even as the economy struggles to regain momentum after abruptly slowing in the first quarter.
Other data on Thursday showed that a strong dollar and lower oil prices suppressed producer inflation in April. That together with signs of modest growth early in the second quarter suggest the Federal Reserve will probably not raise interest rates until later in the year.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 264,000 for the week ended May 9, the Labor Department said on Thursday, within a whisker of a 15-year low reached two weeks ago.
They have been below 300,000, a threshold associated with a strengthening labor market, for 10 straight weeks. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 275,000.
The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 7,750 to 271,750 last week. That was the lowest level since April 2000.
U.S. stock index futures added to gains after the data, while prices of U.S. Treasuries edged up. The U.S. dollar extended losses against a basket of currencies.