Applications for US jobless aid fell to 3-month low of 232K

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The US labour market continues to show signs of tightening, with unemployment claims declining for the third straight week and benefit rolls matching the lowest level since 1973, Labor Department data showed Thursday.

The economy’s brightening prospects were further boosted by other data on Thursday showing a sharp acceleration in factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region this month.

For the week ended 13 May, initial jobless claims fell to 232,000 from 236,000. That’s the lowest level in almost three months.

Claims have now decreased for three consecutive weeks. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast first-time applications for jobless benefits rising to 240,000.

The Jobless claims have been below 300,000 for 115 straight weeks, the longest streak since 1970. The Labor Department said in its latest jobs report that employers added 211,000 jobs in April and the unemployment rate dropped to 4.4%, a level last seen in May 2007.

The number of claims drawn by workers for longer than a week-so-called continuing claims-declined 22,000 to 1,898,000 in the week ended May 6. Data on continuing claims are released with a one-week lag. The four-week average of claims fell 2,000 between the April and May survey periods suggesting further job gains this month.

The U.S. economy has been creating new jobs at a rapid clip for the past six years, knocking the unemployment rate below 5% and helping millions of Americans to recover from the worst recession in decades.

Labor market strength could allow the Fed to raise rates at its June 13-14 policy meeting.

KEY DRIVERS: Hiring has remained steady, despite the first quarter’s slow growth.

But a stock market sell-off, if sustained, amid uncertainty over Trump’s political future could jeopardize further rate increases.

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