Jobless claims jump, wholesale food costs surge

by
January 14, 2011

By Pedro Nicolaci da Costa, Reuters

U.S. jobless claims jumped to their highest level since October last week while food and energy costs lifted producer prices in December, pointing to headwinds for an economy that has shown fresh vigor.

However, a surge in exports to their highest level in two years helped narrow the U.S. trade deficit in November, an encouraging sign for fourth-quarter economic growth.

Despite a string of recent data that had signaled a pickup in the economy’s momentum, the figures on Thursday showed the job market continues to struggle.

The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits rose unexpectedly to 445,000 from 410,000 in the prior week, a Labor Department report showed. It was the biggest one-week jump in about six months and confounded analyst forecasts for a small drop to 405,000.

The jobs data weighed on U.S. stocks, which were off slightly in late morning. Government debt prices were trading little changed as concerns about Europe’s debt struggles helped support the market.

“The jobless number highlights the patchy recovery we’ve seen in the job market and reinforces that it will be a slow process bringing down the jobless rate,” said Omer Esiner, market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington.

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