The number of people filing for state unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level since the first week of April, government data showed on Thursday. Major stock indices rose on the good news as Wednesday's Italy-inspired pounding faded.
The Labor Department says new claims fell by 10,000 to 390,000 in the week ended Nov.5, registering below 400,000 for the second straight week. Economists polled by Reuters called for 400,000 initial claims, on a seasonally adjusted basis. The government revised its estimate for new claims during the prior week to 400,000 from 397,000.
Today's data showed the four-week moving average, considered a less volatile measure of the labor market trends, fell 5,250 to 400,000, from 405,250 in the week ended Oct.29, which was revised up from the previously reported 404,500.
The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits after an initial week of aid dropped by 92,000 in the week ended Oct. 22 to 3.615 million, the steepest decline since February, and the lowest level in more than three years.
The continuing claims figure does not include the number of Americans receiving extended benefits under federal programs.
The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Oct.29 were in Michigan, with 1,467 added as a result of layoffs in the manufacturing and transportation industries. Meanwhile, fewer layoffs in the service industry helped California, which saw a decrease of 5,633 Americans claiming unemployment benefits, top the list of states with the largest decrease in new claims.