In the week ending the 4th of February, US initial jobless claims dropped unexpectedly, from an upwardly revised 373 000 to 358 000, while a slight increase was expected. The claims are now again at the lowest level in four weeks. The less volatile four-week moving average dropped lower too, from 377 250 to 366 250.
There were no special factors in the data, the Labour Department added. Continuing claims, which are reported with an extra week lag, picked up, after reaching their lowest level since September 2008. In the week ending the 28th of January, continuing claims rose by 64 000, to a total level of 3 515 000, while an increase to 3 500 000 was expected. After the claims were distorted by the Christmas holidays, we believe they are now hovering again to more “reliable” levels, providing further evidence that labour market conditions are improving in the US, as was suggested by the payrolls reports recently.