US Initial jobless claims declined to 284,000 in the week ending September 9th from 298,000 the previous week. The figure was slightly below consensus expectations of 300,000.
The four-week moving average increased to 263,250 for the week from 250,250 previously and this was the highest reading since August 2016.
The initial claims figure was again pushed higher by the hurricane impact with both Harvey and Irma having an impact on the data.
Texas claims declined by over 11,000 following an increase of over 51,000 the previous week while claims for Florida, South Carolina and Florida were estimated due to the impact of Irma.
Continuing claims in the week ending September 2nd declined to 1.94mn from 1.95mn and has remained below 2.00mn for over four months with the 4-week moving average at 1.95mn.
The unemployment rate among workers eligible for benefits remained at 1.4% for the week and it has remained at this level since early April.
The underlying data still suggests a very firm labour market as claims excluding the impact of hurricanes are likely to have remained below the 250,000 level in the latest week.
There is nothing in the data which would discourage the Fed from starting to shrink the balance sheet at next week’s policy meeting.