The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits fell to a 14-year low last week, a positive signal that could counter doubts over whether the economy is shifting into a higher gear.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 264,000, the lowest level since 2000, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
The decline suggests the labor market is gaining steam even as worries grow that the economy will not be strong enough for the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates around the middle of next year.
Weak retail sales data on Wednesday shook investor convictions over the path of Fed policy and helped fuel a global sell-off in financial markets that continued on Thursday. U.S. stock futures declined even after the claims data.
The report nonetheless reinforces expectations that slack in the labor market is being reduced, which would push the Fed closer to raising rates.
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