The number of Americans lining up for new jobless benefits rebounded last week after a seasonal auto-plant retooling period caused a steep drop the prior week.
In the week ending July 14, applications for unemployment insurance payments rose by 34,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised figure of 352,000, to 386,000, Labor Department figures showed Thursday. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 365,000 last week.
The four-week moving average, which normally provides a better indication of the underlying trend in labor markets than the weekly number of jobless claims, fell 1,500 to 377,000 for first-time benefit applicants.
Last week included the 12th of the month, which coincides with the period the Labor Department uses in its survey of employers to calculate monthly payroll growth. The employment report for July is scheduled to come out on August 3.
Job gains are of great importance because they lead to income growth, and that supports consumer spending, which accounts for more than 70 percent of the U.S. economy.
The number of people filing for benefits after an initial week of aid climbed 1,000 to 3.31 million in the week ending July 4. The continuing claims figure does not include the number of Americans already receiving extended benefits under federal programs. The four-week moving average of people filing for benefits after an initial week of aid for the week ended July 4 increased by 1,000 to 3.31 million.
The number of people who have exhausted their traditional benefits and are now collecting emergency and extended payments decreased by roughly 85,000 to about 2.57 million in the week ending June 30.
Stock futures maintained their gains after the release. The S&P 500 futures was up by 0.45 percent, trading at 1,373.50, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures added 0.34 percent, to 12,904.