Initial Unexpectedly Claims Fall to 340K; Firing Slows Amid Higher Payroll Taxes

March 7, 2013 9:09 AM EST
Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell to a six-week low last week as companies ease firings amid higher payroll taxes and improved housing metrics.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, initial jobless claims came in at 340,000 apps for the week ended March 2, from an initial reading of 344,000 apps the prior week. The Street was looking for a gain to 355,000 apps. It was the lowest reading since January 19, 2013, data show.

No states were estimate last week and nothing unusual altered the reading.

The four-week moving average fell 7,000 to 348,750 apps, its lowest since March 8, 2008.

Americans on continuing claims rose 3,000 to 3.09 million for the week ended February 23, 2013.

Those on emergency benefits fell 225,400 to 1.78 million for the week ended February 16, 2013.

Numbers come in ahead of nonfarm payroll data, which is expected out before U.S. markets open Friday morning. Currently, the consensus calls for additions of 165,000 positions in February, from additions of 157,000 jobs the prior month.

Markets are largely indicated higher Thursday morning.

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