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U.S. jobless claims edge up in latest week

New claims for U.S. jobless aid rose by a slightly larger-than-expected 4,000 last week, Labor Department data showed Thursday, but applications remained at levels suggesting a healthy job market.
/ Source: Reuters

New claims for U.S. jobless aid rose by a slightly larger-than-expected 4,000 last week, Labor Department data showed Thursday, but applications remained at levels suggesting a healthy job market.

First-time claims for state unemployment insurance benefits advanced to 313,000 in the week ended June 24, from an upwardly revised 309,000 the prior week.

Wall Street analysts polled by Reuters had expected 310,000 new claims last week, after an initially reported 308,000 the previous week.

The four-week moving average of new claims, which smooths weekly volatility to offer a better picture of underlying labor market trends, fell by 6,000 last week to 305,500.

In addition, the number of workers who continued to draw benefits after an initial week of aid climbed 54,000 to 2.409 million in the week ended June 17, the latest for which these data are available. This compared with a forecast for 2.425 million continued claims.

The four-week moving average for continued claims fell 2,750 to 2.399 million, the lowest level since the week of January 27, 2001, when it was 2.396 million.

Financial markets will eye the claims data for signs of labor market tightness, which the Federal Reserve is monitoring as it ponders inflation pressures and how much further to go in its two-year-old rate hike campaign.

The Fed is expected to announce another quarter percentage point rise in the benchmark federal funds rate to 5.25 percent later on Thursday. But economists are divided about whether the central bank will open the door to a pause in its accompanying statement, or raise rates again at its next policy meeting, on August 8.

The claims numbers were gathered too late in the month to influence June’s overall employment report, due on July 7. A Reuters’ poll of analysts forecast 150,000 new jobs were created in June, compared with a meager 75,000 in May, with the rate of unemployment expected to remain steady at 4.6 percent.