NAM: Low jobless claims suggest labor market strength

Reuters (4/10, Mutikani) reports that first-time claims for jobless benefits fell 14,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 281,000, according to Department of Labor data released on Thursday. Reuters notes that it was the fifth consecutive week in which claims came in below 300,000, historically a sign of labor market strength. The four-week moving average, which irons out week-to-week volatility, dropped 3,000 to 282,250, the lowest level since 2000.

According to the AP (4/10, Rugaber), the increase comes after jobless aid applications “plummeted to match a 15-year low” the previous week. The article notes that as a proxy for company layoffs, the continued low number indicates that “companies are confident enough in the economy to keep their staffs.” The AP also notes that the number of people receiving benefits dropped to 2.3 million, “the fewest in more than 14 years.”

US Consumer Comfort Index Hits Highest Level Since 2007. Bloomberg News (4/9) reports that the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose last week to 47.9, “the highest level since May 2007.” The article notes that “a measure of buying conditions” reached the strongest they have been since November 2006, and Americans’ views on the nation’s economy “were the brightest in nine weeks.” In a breakdown of the measurables, Bloomberg notes that Americans’ views on the economic state of the country rose from 37.1 to 39.5, and the index of personal finances hit 60.5, its “second-highest level since October 2007.”

Wholesale Stockpiles Increase While Sales Fall. According to the AP (4/9, Crutsinger), the wholesale stockpiles rose 0.3 percent in February while sales fell 0.2 percent, the seventh straight month that “sales have either fallen or been flat.”

Bloomberg News (4/10, Torres, Golle) reports that data released by the Commerce Department on Thursday showed that sales of durable goods at US distributors in the first two months of this year “suffered the biggest two-month drop since the recession’s last gasp in early 2009.” As a result, wholesalers are facing an “inventory glut” which could put manufacturers “in the doldrums for a while.”