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US Jobless Claims Fall as Nonfarm Payrolls Report Looms

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US Jobless Claims Fall as Nonfarm Payrolls Report Looms

New applications for jobless benefits fell to their lowest level in nearly four months, a sign the US labour market was improving ahead of next week’s official jobs report.

US jobless claims declined by 10,000 to 311,000 last week, the lowest level since the end of November, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The median estimate of economists called for jobless benefits to rise to 325,000 in the week ending March 22.

The four-week average for initial claims fell from 327,250 to 317,750, official data showed.

Continuing jobless claims fell from 2.876 million to 2.832 million. The insured unemployment rate held steady at 2.2 percent.

The US labour market hit a rough patch this winter, as inclement weather halted the pace of recovery. US employers added 175,000 payrolls last month, the highest tally since November. The Labor Department is scheduled to release official nonfarm payrolls next week.

Recent PMI data courtesy of Markit Group says the US economy may have added only 130,000 jobs in March.

A separate report released today by the Commerce Department showed gross domestic product expanded at an annual rate of 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter, up from the 2.4 percent rate it reported last month. The upward revision was due to higher consumer spending than previously estimated.

Growth revisions suggest the US economy entered the first quarter of 2014 on a strong footing. It also suggests recovery should return to pace once the effects of the unusually cold weather diminish.

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