New claims for unemployment benefits fell from 348,000 to 343,000 last week, according to the weekly report from the U.S. Department of Labor. The consensus estimate called for a drop of 2,000. The data were released today due to tomorrow's Fourth of July holiday.
The four-week average is down by a scant 750, the poorest showing in the past six weeks.
Better news came from the number of continuing claims, which dropped by 54,000 to a seasonally adjusted total of 2.93 million for the week ending June 22.
Combined with today's report from ADP, which showed a gain of 188,000 new private sector jobs, today's data dump on employment should put some air under stocks when markets open today. The effect may be larger than normal due to the relatively small number of traders who are working today.
Markets close today at 1:00 p.m. ET, so that the rest of us can get an early start to the holiday. Trading is expected to be light on Friday as well, when the Labor Department releases its report on nonfarm payrolls for June.
Filed under: Economy