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US weekly jobless claims fall more than expected

The calculate of Americans filing applications for jobless benefits fell more than expected last week, pointing to a fortifying labor market that could further ease concerns about the economy’s health.

Initial claims for state unemployment profits fell 17,000 to a seasonally adjusted 216,000 for the week ended Jan. 5, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Observations for the prior week was revised up to show 2,000 more applications received than previously reported.

Economists counted by Reuters had forecast claims declining to 225,000 in the latest week. The Labor Department said only claims for Puerto Rico were estimated persist week.

Claims were boosted in the week ending Dec. 29 as workers furloughed because of a partial shutdown of the U.S. regime applied for benefits. The federal government partially closed on Dec. 22 as President Donald Trump demanded that the U.S. Congress assign him $5.7 billion this year to help build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico.

The shutdown, which has attacked a quarter of the government, including the Commerce Department, has left 800,000 employees furloughed or working without pay. Private contractors put together for many government agencies are also without pay.

Claims by federal workers are reported separately and with a one-week lag. The issue of federal employees filing for jobless benefits increased by 3,831 to 4,760 in the week ending Dec. 29. Furloughed federal ministry workers can submit claims for unemployment benefits, but payment would depend on whether Congress decides to pay their earnings retroactively.

The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fly 2,500 to 221,750 last week.

The government reported last week that the economy created 312,000 assigns in December, the most in 10 months. The unemployment rate rose two-tenths of a percentage point to 3.9 percent as some out of work Americans piled into the labor market, confident of their job prospects.

Labor market strength has helped to placid fears that the economy was slowing sharply following steep declines in consumer confidence and manufacturing activity in December, which listed financial markets. Tighter financial market conditions and slowing global growth, however, could make the Federal Charter cautious about raising interest rates this year.

Minutes of the U.S. central bank’s Dec. 18-19 policy conjunction published on Wednesday showed “many” officials were of the view that the Fed “could afford to be patient about urge onwards policy firming.”

The Fed has forecast two rate hikes this year. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and several policymakers hold said they would be patient and flexible in policy decisions this year.

Thursday’s claims report also plained the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 28,000 to 1.72 million for the week objected Dec. 29. The four-week moving average of the so-called continuing claims increased 15,250 to 1.72 million.

November’s wholesale inventories document from the Commerce Department’s Census Bureau, which was scheduled for release on Thursday, will not be published because of the administration shutdown.

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