Jobless Claims Hit 5-Wk. Low Stateside

Filings for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly dipped to a five-week low, offering a fresh sign the job market south of the border remains historically tight amid other mixed signals on the economy.

Figures released Thursday by the U.S. Labor Department revealed that jobless claims fell 1,000 to 211,000 in the week ended May 18. The figures were below the median estimate of economists. The four-week average, which is typically a less volatile measure, declined to 220,250.

The department adds that the third straight drop in claims suggests the labour market in the U.S is still healthy amid the lowest unemployment rate in almost a half-century and steady wage gains. A separate report last week showed Americans are confident about their finances and the economy, with consumer sentiment jumping to a 15-year high in May.

Continuing claims, which are reported with a one-week lag, rose by 12,000 to 1.676 million in the week ended May 11. The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 1.2%.

Economists had forecast an increase in weekly claims to 215,000 from 212,000.