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Initial Jobless Claims Fall More Than Expected Last Week

‘…with gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace, labor market conditions will strengthen somewhat further and inflation will rise to 2% over the medium term’. – Federal Reserve

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits dropped more than expected last week, official figures revealed on Thursday. The Labor Department reported initial jobless claims fell to a seasonally adjusted 246,000 in the week ending January 28 from the preceding week’s upwardly revised 260,000, while analysts anticipated a slighter decline to 251,000. The result marked 100 weeks below the 300,000 level, the longest streak since 1973. At the Federal Reserve’s last meeting, policymakers kept its benchmark overnight rate unchanged in a range of 0.50% to 0.75%. Thursday’s data also showed that the four-moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labour market trends, advanced 2,250 to 248,000 last week. Furthermore, continuing claims declined 39,000 to 2.06 million during the week ended January 21, while their four-week moving average fell 13,000 to 2.08 million. Last week’s claims report has no impact on the NFP data for January, set for release on Friday. Economists expect nonfarm payrolls to show a gain of 170,000 jobs, following a sluggish December, when private companies created just 156,000 new jobs, missing the 175,000 gain forecast. Moreover, the unemployment rate is excepted to remain unchanged at 4.7% in January. Wage growth is likely to boost consumer spending and support economic growth in the Q1 of 2017.

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