Initial Jobless Claims totaled 480k, 25k above expectations and up from 472k last week. It is now the 3rd week in a row above 470k and somewhat reverses the positive trend seen in the prior 4 weeks where all were below 455k. The 4 week average is now at 469k up from 457k last week and is at an 8 week high. Also, Continuing Claims rose by 2k and Extended Claims, past the initial 26 weeks, rose by a net 242k. Thus, ahead of tomorrow’s Payroll figure, the claims data has lost a bit of its recent momentum and reflects a private sector that still remains very reluctant to add workers. Q4 Productivity rose a solid 6.2% coincident with the sharp GDP gain but was .3% less than expected. Output rose by 7.2% but employee hours rose by only 1% as companies continue to do more with less. Unit Labor Costs, as a result of the productivity gain, fell by 4.4%.
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