The number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits was little changed last week, signaling the labor market is stabilizing.
Application for jobless insurance payments increased by 4,000 to 352,000 in the week ended April 13, in line with the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg. There was nothing unusual in last week’s data and two states, California and Kentucky, were estimated, a Labor Department official said.
The report indicates employers have enough demand to hold on to workers, which means they may be prepared to boost hiring should sales pick up. Gains in consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy, will be needed to prevent growth from slowing as automatic cuts in federal spending take effect.
“The labor market is heading in the right direction,” Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania, said before the report. Moody’s was the best forecaster of jobless claims over the past two years according to data compiled by Bloomberg. “After the weak March employment report, confidence is key. The broad trend in claims should stay roughly downward.”
Stock-index futures held earlier gains after the report. The contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index maturing in June rose 0.4 percent to 1,551.7 at 8:33 a.m. in New York, indicating the index will rebound from a three-week low.