Initial Claims Drop to Four-Year Low of 359K, Still Above Expectations

March 29, 2012 11:48 AM EDT
Americans filing for unemployment benefits for the first time fell last week, though the number came in above survey estimates.

According to data out of the Labor Department Thursday morning, initial claims dropped 5,000 to 359,000 for the week ended March 24th. Analysts on the Street were looking for a dip closer to 350,000.

The level is still its lowest since April 2008.

Claims for the prior week were revised higher by 16,000 to 364,000.

The four-week moving average of claims fell from 368,5000 to 365,000. Continuing claims for the week ended March 17th fell 41,000 to 3.34 million.

Above and beyond traditional benefits, those getting extended benefits fell 79,000 to 3.24 million for the week ended March 10th.

Numbers may reflect a rise in business investment amid a recent rise in consumer confidence. Earlier in the week, the Conference Board said its Confidence Index fell to 70.2 in March from 71.6 in February, but the number came in higher than the Street estimate of 70.1.

Following the news, markets are lower on the session Thursday.

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