NEW YORK – The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, a sign the labor market's slow recovery was gaining traction although a severe storm distorted the data.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 355,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. That was below the median forecast in a Reuters poll of 370,000.
The U.S. trade deficit narrowed in September as exports increased, suggesting the economy expanded more than previously believed in the third quarter.
The seasonally adjusted monthly trade gap fell to $41.55 billion, the smallest deficit since December 2010, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. Analysts were expecting the trade gap would widen to $45.0 billion.
JEREMY LAWSON, SENIOR ECONOMIST, BNP PARIBAS, NEW YORK
"The best way to look at trade is that weakness we saw in August and July was overstated. This is a snapback from that. This suggests export growth is weak but not contracting. Going forward, export growth should be weak as well. As for next year, the pace of growth should pick up with an improvement in global demand."
DAVID ADER, HEAD OF GOVERNMENT BOND STRATEGY, CRT CAPITAL
GROUP, STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT:
"Trade is narrower with a narrower revision and so good for GDP, say a 0.4 percent contribution, but we'll point out that the real goods balance ex-petroleum was wider. The very nuanced point is that when it comes to things, this actually represents a bit of a drag -- we bet no one else will make that point."
DAVID SLOAN, ECONOMIST, 4CAST LTD, NEW YORK:
"It is pretty difficult to interpret, given hurricane Sandy,
would expect that the net effect was depressed claims. They said in some areas it increased claims and in some areas it depressed claims but in the coming weeks claims will start rising, so it was difficult to know what the underlying figure would be. I was surprised continued claims fell quite sharply -- they are a week earlier so they shouldn't have had such a strong hurricane Sandy effect."
ADAM SARHAN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF SARHAN CAPITAL IN NEW YORK
"Claims came in stronger than expected, which follows a string of better-than-expected datapoints, especially on the labor front. We've seen a big spike in the trend of the jobs market in the past few months. We were stable, but since the unemployment rate dropped below 8 percent, it seems like there's been an acceleration in the amount of jobs being added. We should react positively to this."
JOSEPH TREVISANI, CHIEF MARKET STRATEGIST, WORLDWIDE
MARKETS, WOODCLIFF LAKE, NEW JERSEY
"Despite recent marginal improvement in the overall economy, there has been little corresponding improvement in jobless claims. The labor market remains flat at best."
(Americas Economics and Markets Desk; +1-646 223-6300)