Initial jobless claims increased to 244,000 in the week ending April 15th from 234,000 previously and the data was slightly above consensus forecasts of an increase to 242,000.
The four-week moving average, however, declined to 243,000 from 247,250 previously.
Initial claims have been below the benchmark level of 300,000 for 111 weeks in succession with a very prolonged period of low claims.
Continuing claims also declined to 1.979mn in the week ending April 8th from 2.028mn previously. This figure was below expectations of 2.02mn and the lowest figure since April 2000. The four-week moving average declined to 2.024mn from 2.026mn previously and at the lowest level for close to 17 years.
In the week ending April 8th, the largest increase in initial claims was for California, reversing declines the previous week while the largest decrease was for Michigan.
The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits declined to 1.4% from 1.5% in the latest week.
The claims data continues to indicate a very low level of layoffs and underlying confidence in the labour market. This week’s data is for the survey week for the May BLS employment report which should maintain expectations that there will be a strong rebound in payrolls for the month after the lower than expected increase for March.
There will be some caution given the risk of erratic claims data around the Easter period given the differences in annual timing.
There was little market reaction with USD/JPY fractionally above the 109.00 level.