Jobless Claims Hit 6-Month Low, Manufacturing So-So

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The four-week moving average of jobless claims last week fell by 500 from the previous week's unrevised average to a total of 240,500, according to seasonally adjusted data from the USA department of Labor. These are lowest since Feb 25, where claims fell to 227,000.

"The trend is still extraordinarily low, signaling that firms are very reluctant to let people go, presumably because it is so hard to find replacements", said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, in a note to clients. The previous week's claims were unrevised at 244,000. The last time claims were as low was in 1973.

Economists had forecast a reading of 240,000.

The unemployment rate has fallen to a 16-year low of 4.3 percent.

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Meanwhile, the four-week moving average, which aims to smoothe out the volatility in the figures from one week to the next, dipped by 500 to 240,500. Jobless claims have come in below 300,000 for 128 weeks in a row.

The government's jobs report for July showed that US employers added 209,000 jobs.

New filings for unemployment benefits fell 12,000 to 232,000 in the week ended August 12.

This is the week the government surveys households for its August non-farm payrolls report, which gives the claims number a big more significance to markets.