U.S. Labor Market Faces Slow Down but Unemployment Claims Fall

New applications for U.S. jobless benefits dropped over anticipated last week; however, the labor market seems to be retarded, with the number of Individuals on unemployment rolls pushing to over a 1-1/2-year high at 2019-end.

Initial applications for state unemployment advantages dropped 9,000 to a seasonally modified 214,000 for the week ended January 4, the Labor Division stated Thursday.

The fourth consecutive weekly fall saw claims nearly unwinding the soar in early December, which was blamed on a later-than-usual Thanksgiving Day.

Economists had forecast claims would fall to 220,000 in the newest week. The claims data was unstable late last year, with applications falling to 203,000 at the end of November and shooting as much as 252,000 in early December.

The four-week moving average of initial applications, considered a greater measure of labor market trends as it irons out weekly levity, dopped 9,500 to 224,000 last week.

The data had little swayed U.S. financial markets as politics dominated sentiment.

Stocks on Wall Street surged, with the major indexes hitting record highs after the U.S. and Iran stepped back from an all-out conflict.

The greenback gained versus major currencies, while U.S. Treasury prices plunged. However, the labor market could be losing traction. The number of individuals receiving benefits after an initial week of support valued at 75,000 to 1.80 million for the late December week, the highest level since April 2018.

The four-week shifting average of the so-called continuing claims surged 33,000 to 1.74 million. A few of the surge in continuing claims could be linked to year-end volatility.