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The broad indices were all showing declines, after the Department of Labor said first-time unemployment claims for the week ended April 13 rose 4,000 to 352,000, from the previous week's revised figure of 348,000. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters had expected jobless claims to come in at 350,000. The four-week moving average for first-time unemployment claims increased by 2,750 to 361,250.
In its economic commentary early on Wednesday, Deutsche Bank's research team said Thursday's unemployment claims numbers would "take on added significance," because a spike in claims the previous week was caused by the Easter holiday, which came early this year.
UBS economist Maury Harris early on Thursday forecast the unemployment claims number would be little changed and also that the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's index of regional factory activity would increase to a reading of 5.0 for April from 2.0 in March. A reading above zero indicates expansion. The Philadelphia Fed later announced that the index reading for April was just 1.3. "The indicator for overall activity remained slightly positive this month," the bank said in a statement "but other broad indicators were mixed. Indicators for new orders and employment were weaker this month." The consensus among economists is for the Philadelphia Fed's index of current activity to come in at 3.3.
The KBW Bank Index (I:BKX) was down 1% to 54.20, with 17 of the 24 index components showing afternoon declines, including Bank of America (BAC - Get Report), which was down over 2% to $11.44, following a 5% decline on Wednesday.