US jobless claims miss forecasts despite gains

Claims rise 10,000 to 247,000 in the first week of 2017

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 January, 2017, 11:14pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 January, 2017, 11:14pm

First-time claims for US unemployment insurance benefits rose slightly in the first week of the year but still came in lower than expected, the Labour Department said on Thursday.

Initial claims rose by 10,000 in the week to January 7 from the previous week to 247,000, adjusted for seasonal factors.

But after the big drop in the final week of 2016, analysts were expecting claims to jump nearly 20,000 to 255,000, according to a consensus forecast.

The result continued a nearly two-year streak of initial claims for unemployment benefits below 300,000, which at 97 consecutive weeks is the longest since 1970. In the first week of 2016, claims were 280,000.

In a separate report, the Labour Department said import prices rose 0.4 per cent in December while the price index excluding petroleum dipped 0.2 per cent. Prices for fuel imports jumped 7.3 per cent in the month, the biggest gain since June.

Meanwhile, the export price index was up 0.3 per cent and non-agricultural exports rose 0.4 per cent.

Import prices grew 1.8 per cent in 2016 compared with 2015 while export prices increased 1.1 per cent. In 2015, import and export prices fell sharply from the previous year, dropping 8.3 per cent and 6.6 per cent, respectively.

Fuel import prices rose in 2016 for the first time since 2011, and by the largest amount since 2009, jumping 25 per cent after a 41 per cent plunge in 2015.