US Jobless Claims Fall, Trade Deficit Widens

by on February 6, 2014 2:59 pm BST

Initial jobless claims in the United States fell 20K to 331, marking the first decline in three week’s, according to the Labor Department. Analysts were expecting 331K. Last weeks jobless claims number was revised up to 351K from 341K.

“When you look at the labor market, job destruction has been very, very low,” said Scott Brown, chief economist for Raymond James & Associates. Brown said that it is not an issue of layoffs but there is little new hiring. He is optimistic it will eventually turn around.

The four-week average of jobless claims rose to 334K from 333,750. Those individuals continuing to receive jobless benefits increased by 15K to 2.96 million in the week ending on January 25.

The trade deficit widened in December on falling exports, according to data provided by the Commerce Department. The deficit widened to $38.7 billion, a 12 percent increase. November’s print was revised from $34.3 billion to $34.6 billion.

The previous trade balance added 1.33 points to fourth-quarter gross domestic product on increased exports, but economists believe it will be able to be sustained with growth slowing in China and other emerging markets.

Canada’s trade balance also widened, expanding from $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion. Merchandise imports grew 1.2 percent with exports increasing .9 percent in December.