US initial jobless claims unexpectedly rise

Initial jobless claims rose by 7,000 to 284,000 last week.

Economists had estimated that the number of first-time claims made for unemployment benefits totaled 275,000, down from 277,000 in the prior week, according to Bloomberg.

The four-week moving average, which evens some of the volatility of the weekly data, was 278,750, up by 3,000.

None of last week’s data were revised, and the labour department reported no special factors influencing this report.

In a client preview, Deutsche Bank’s Joe LaVorgna had said the data are “notoriously unreliable” at this time of year, given the ever-changing weather.

Pantheon Macroeconomics’ Ian Shepherdson explained further in a note to clients after the release that the volatility is because people are hired and fired for temp jobs over the holidays so quickly that the data sometimes cannot keep up.

“The underlying trend, which we think is still about 275K, will re-emerge in February, but we are braced for substantial swings, in both directions, over the next few weeks,” he wrote.

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