Despite Weak Jobs Reports This Week, Jobless Claims Improve Handily

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Despite some very weak independent jobs reports seen so far this week, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that the number of weekly jobless claims fell by 26,000 to 323,000 in the latest week. Bloomberg was calling for a figure of 338,000, and Dow Jones was calling for 335,000.

Last week’s report was revised to 349,000 from the 348,000 figure reported initially. The four-week average also was pulled lower by 2,000 to 336,500. Thursday’s Labor Department report said that there were no special factors influencing the report.

The number of continuing claims, which are reported with a one-week lag, fell by 8,000, down to 2.907 million.

There was another reading issued for the fourth-quarter of 2013 — nonfarm productivity and unit labor costs. The report said productivity was up by 1.8% (versus a 2.4% Bloomberg consensus estimate) and unit labor costs were down by 0.1% (versus a -0.5% Bloomberg consensus).

Thursday’s jobless claims report will be the last of the major reports prior to Friday’s unemployment and payrolls report.

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