Jobs and economic reports issued by the government surprised on two fronts.

Discomfiting jobs-data released this morning showed that the number of those receiving new unemployment claims jumped by 15,000 for the week ending June 20. The Department of Labor reported that the figure rose to 627,000, representing the largest number of initial claims since May. Many had expected a fall in new claims this week.

The four-week moving average for new claims, which tends to smooth out wild swings in the data, also rose by 500 from the previous week's total to 617,250.

At the same time, the number of those continuing on unemployment benefit roles spiked by 29,000 during the week ending June 13, bringing the grand total to 6.74 million. But the four-week moving average slipped by 3,250 to come to 6.76 million.

Last week, data released showed that the total number of those

collecting unemployment benefits fell by 148,000, representing the largest drop since 2001. But today's numbers revised last week's claim, bringing the revised plunge to 126,000.

Meanwhile, following yesterday's Fed announcement that that rates would stay unchanged, this morning the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis said first quarter GDP shrunk 5.5%. Last month, the department had forecast a decrease of 5.7% in its preliminary estimates.

"The decrease in real GDP in the first quarter primarily reflected negative contributions from exports, equipment and software, private inventory investment, nonresidential structures, and residential fixed investment that were partly offset by a positive contribution from personal consumption expenditures (PCE)," the bureau's press release said. "Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, decreased."

In the fourth quarter, GDP decreased 6.3%.

Still, stocks were tracking upwards following the news. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

gained nearly nearly 58 points to come to 8,357 after the opening. The

Nasdaq Composite

was gaining 1.1%.

Though several stocks were starting the session in the red.


(KMB) - Get Report

, which announced layoffs this morning, was down 20 cents to $51.57.

Conagra Foods

(CAG) - Get Report

, another early mover, was down 5.8% in morning trading.


Lockheed Martin

(LMT) - Get Report

, which announced plans that may cut jobs at its Owego plant, was up 1.3%.

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