The number of Americans claiming new unemployment benefits dropped to a four-year low last week, offering further evidence the jobs market recovery was gaining traction.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 5000 to a seasonally adjusted 348,000, the lowest level since February 2008, the Labor Department said yesterday. Economists polled had forecast claims rising to 354,000 last week.
A separate report showed a gauge of future US economic activity rose solidly in February, pointing to strengthening growth even as China slows.
"The economy is entering a phase where more of the gains from growth accrue to labour rather than capital," said John Ryding, of RDQ Economics.
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