World Bulletin / News Desk
The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits roseless than expected last week, but the data continues to be influenced by distortions from seasonal auto shutdowns.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 365,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The prior week's figure was revised up to 357,000 from the previously reported 353,000.
"The claims number is not that bad. There does seem to be some difficulty dealing with the seasonals this time of year whether it's auto plant closures or lack thereof," said Cary Leahey, a senior economist at Decision Economics in New York.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 370,000 last week. The four-week moving average for new claims, a better measure of labor market trends, fell 2,750 to 365,500, the lowest in four months.
Temporary plant shutdowns by automakers for annual retooling cause wide swings in claims data in July, which makes it difficult to get a clear picture of the labor market's health.
The model used by the government to smooth the numbers for typical seasonal patterns has trouble anticipating the timing of the temporary closures and in addition, some automakers kept production lines running in July.
A Labor Department official said last week was the last where the seasonal expectation was shaped by seasonal layoffs in the auto manufacturing sector.
U.S. financial markets were little moved by the data, with traders focusing attention on a press conference by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi.
The claims data has no bearing on the July employment report as it falls outside the survey period.
The government is expected to report on Friday that employers added 100,000 new workers to their payrolls last month, according to a Reuters survey, up from 80,000 in June.
Job growth averaged 75,000 per month in the second quarter, a sharp deceleration from the average monthly increase of 226,000 in the first three months of the year.
An uncertain fiscal policy path and ongoing debt problems in Europe have hurt demand and left businesses cautious about hiring new workers.
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve signaled it was willing to ease monetary policy further, noting that economic activity had slowed in the first half of the year. Many economists expect the U.S. central bank to launch a third round of bond buying, also known as quantitative easing, in September.
The number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid fell 19,000 to 3.3 million in the week ended July 21.
A second report showed planned layoffs at U.S. companies dropped for a second straight month in July, even as job cuts in the financial sector persisted.
Employers announced 36,855 planned job cuts last month, down 1.9 percent from June, consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas said. So far this year, announced layoffs are up 2.5 percent from the same period in 2011.
The financial sector cut 6,156 jobs in July, the largest number since January.
"The situation in Europe is far from being resolved and ongoing weakness here could continue to take a toll on the financial sector," John Challenger, chief executive of the company, said in a statement.
Challenger also cautioned that layoffs typically slow during the summer months, while the heaviest job cuts historically happen in the fourth quarter.
"This may simply be the lull before the storm," he said.
Ecuador, Egypt, Pakistan, Venezuela, Belize, Cuba, Cyprus, Greece, Jamaica and Ukraine are all on the verge of a default, according to Moody's ratings.
A World Trade Organisation pact to ease worldwide customs rules collapsed late on Thursday over India's demands for concessions on agricultural stockpiling.
India's new nationalist government has insisted that a permanent agreement on its subsidised food stockpiling must be in place at the same time as the trade facilitation deal
Chemicals firm LyondellBasell has emerged as the mystery American buyer of Kurdish crude oil this year, but said it will not be buying any more
Some EU member states remain nervous about the impact on their own fragile economies. The sanctions deal was agreed only after initial proposals were narrowed.
Bankers in Singapore say Russians looking for a new Cyprus have come to the wrong place.
The default could get much messier and take longer to clear up if creditors force an "acceleration" for early payment on their bonds.
The ban came a day after the European Union and United States imposed their first sanctions aimed at hitting broad sectors of the Russian economy
Russia called new U.S. sanctions "destructive and short-sighted"
While the default will obviously hurt the economy, it will not be as severe as in 2001, economists say
The Czechs, who supported the action, have been against sweeping sanctions, worried about trade relations with Russia
The trade program has been criticized for disproportionately benefiting certain industries and a handful of countries, including Nigeria, South Africa and Angola.
The United Kalavrvta tanker, carrying some 1 million barrels of crude worth about $100 million, arrived off the coast of Texas on Saturday but has yet to unload its disputed cargo.
The uncertainty comes at a bad time for the 18 countries in the euro zone, whose economy is already in the doldrums.
"Kalashnikov regrets that consumers are faced with such a problem," said spokeswoman Yekaterina Boni.
Cairo and Khartoum had earlier accepted a proposal by Addis Ababa to hold the talks in Sudan in the third week of August.