Weekly Jobless Claims Fall in U.S.

The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, pointing to sustained labour market strength that should underpin the economy as growth slows.

Information released Thursday morning by the U.S. Labor Department revealed initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 16,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 212,000 for the week ended May 11. Data for the prior week was unrevised.

Claims had remained at higher levels for three straight weeks, reflecting difficulties stripping out seasonal fluctuations from the data around moving holidays like Easter, Passover and school spring breaks.

Economists had forecast claims would fall to 220,000 in the latest week.

The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labour market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose 4,750 to 225,000 last week.

The labour market stateside is strong, with the unemployment rate near a 50-year low of 3.6%.