A little economic data rolled in this morning. The Labor Department reported that initial jobless claims slipped by 19,000 last week to 318,000, hitting the lowest level since the week ended August 4. The Street estimate was for a drop of 4,000 to 330,000. Claims in the previous week were revised to an increase of 12,000 to 337,000 compared with the initial estimate of a rise of 9,000 to 334,000. The four-week average of initial claims rose 500 to 325,750. Meanwhile, the number of Americans receiving state jobless benefits rose 25,000 to 2.60 million in the week ending August 25, the highest level since the week ended February 17. The four-week moving average of continuing claims rose 12,000 to 2.57 million, the highest since January 14, 2006.
Elsewhere, productivity growth in the U.S. nonfarm business sector was stronger in the second quarter than previously estimated. Productivity was revised to a 2.6% annual growth rate from the 1.8% estimate a month ago. The revision was in line with economists forecasts. The revision was based on the upward revision to second-quarter gross domestic product reported last week.
Unit labor costs increased at a 1.4% annual rate, down from the earlier estimate of 2.1%. During the past 4 quarters, the output per hour of American businesses has increased 0.9%, up from the initial estimate of a 0.6% rise. Unit labor costs were up 4.9% during the past year, the fastest pace since the third quarter of 2000.