* Initial jobless claims fall 21,000 last week
* Claims lowest in three months
* Continuing claims lowest in nearly two years
WASHINGTON, Oct 28 (Reuters) – New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits fell last week to a three-month low, hinting at some improvement in the listless labor market.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 434,000, the lowest since the week ended July 10, the Labor Department said on Thursday. That
was the second straight decline in claims.
Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast claims edging up to 453,000 from the previously reported 452,000. The government
revised the prior week’s figure up to 455,000.
“A couple of months ago we started seeing improvement in numerous gauges of employment, and we’re slowly getting that
confirmation from data that’s been coming out,” said Steve Goldman, a market strategist at Weeden & Co. in Greenwich, Connecticut.
U.S. stock index futures added to gains after the report, while U.S. government debt prices pared gains. The U.S. dollar was little changed.
A Labor Department official said there was nothing unusual in the state data. The economy’s painfully slow recovery from the worst recession since the Great Depression has left the labor market subdued and the unemployment rate at 9.6 percent. While the upbeat report does not change expectations in the financial markets the Federal Reserve will ease monetary policy
further next week, it could have an impact on the size of the anticipated bond purchases by the U.S. central bank. The Fed has singled out unemployment and low inflation as
key areas of concern.
Last week, the four-week average of new jobless claims, considered a better measure of underlying labor market trends, fell 5,500 to 453,250.
The number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid dropped 122,000 to 4.36 million in the week ended Oct. 16. That was the lowest reading since the week ended
Nov. 22, 2008. The prior week’s number was revised up to 4.48 million.
Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast so-called continuing claims falling to 4.40 million from a previously reported 4.44 million. The continuing claims data covered the survey period for the household survey from which the
unemployment rate is derived.
The number of people on emergency benefits declined 258,102 to 3.78 million in the week ended Oct. 9.

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