WASHINGTON Fewer Americans than forecast filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week, which may reflect difficulty adjusting the data for seasonal swings at the start of a new quarter.
Applications for jobless benefits dropped 30,000 to 339,000 in the week ended Saturday, the fewest since February 2008, Labor Department figures showed Thursday. Economists forecast 370,000 claims, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. One state accounted for most of the plunge in claims, a Labor Department spokesman said as the data were issued.
Estimates for first-time claims ranged from 355,000 to 377,000 in the Bloomberg survey of 49 economists. The Labor Department revised the number of applications for the prior week up to 369,000 from a previously estimated 367,000.
Meanwhile, the U.S. trade deficit widened in August as exports dropped, a report from the Commerce Department also showed Thursday. The gap grew 4.1 percent to $44.2 billion from $42.5 billion in July.
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