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New Jobless Claims Rose Last Week, Retail Sales Fell in January

Jobless claims rose in the latest week, while retail sales dropped in January.
Jobless claims rose in the latest week, while retail sales dropped in January. LM Otero / AP

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week, Labor Department data showed on Thursday.

A separate government report showed retail sales fell unexpectedly in January, and another gauge of consumer spending also slipped.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 339,000 from 331,000 the week before, the Labor Department said. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast first-time applications for jobless benefits slipping to 330,000 in the week ended Feb. 8.

The four-week moving average for new claims, considered a better measure of underlying labor market conditions as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose to 336,750 from 333,250.

The Comerce Department said retail sales fell 0.4 percent last month, led by a drop in automobile sales. Sales fell by a revised 0.1 percent in December. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales would be unchanged in January after rising by a previously reported 0.2 percent in December.

Stripping out automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, so-called core sales fell 0.3 percent after rising by a downwardly revised 0.3 percent in December. Core sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product. Economists had expected this category to advance 0.2 percent in January.

- Reuters