US jobless claims show surprise increase in week

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 June, 2014, 5:57am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 June, 2014, 5:57am

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, but not enough to change views the labour market was strengthening.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits climbed 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 317,000 for the week to June 7, the labour department said. The previous week's claims were revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported.

Economists had forecast first-time applications for jobless aid slipping to 310,000 last week.

Retail sales rose less than expected last month, but that probably will do little to change expectations of an acceleration in growth this quarter as data for the previous months was revised higher.

The commerce department said retail sales, which account for a third of consumer spending, gained 0.3 per cent after a revised 0.5 per cent jump in April.

Economists had forecast sales gaining 0.6 per cent after a previously reported 0.1 per cent increase in April.

Data on retail sales and jobless claims were below expectations, although neither reading was seen as so weak as to change the optimism that economic conditions are improving.

Reports on employment, manufacturing and services industries have suggested growth would rebound strongly in the second quarter after the economy contracted at a 1 per cent annual rate in the January-March period.

Core sales, which strip out vehicles, petrol, building materials and food services, and correspond closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product, were unchanged last month. They were, however, revised to show a 0.2 per cent rise in April after previously being reported to have slipped 0.1 per cent.

A labour department analyst said there were no special factors influencing the state jobless level.

The four-week moving average for new claims, considered a better measure of underlying labour market conditions as it irons out week-to-week volatility, increased 4,750 to 315,250.

The economy added 217,000 jobs last month, the fourth consecutive month of gains above 200,000. The jobless rate held steady at a 51/2-year low of 6.3 per cent.