Initial Jobless Claims Rise 9,000

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- An increase in the number of Americans filing jobless claims offered yet another sign of a sluggish economic recovery.

For the week ended June 18, 429,000 people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time, an increase of 9,000 from the previous week, according to a report from the Department of Labor. Economists were expecting a marginal decline of 1,000 to 413,000.

The four-week moving average in initial claims was about unchanged from the previous week's revised 426,250. Continuing claim levels ticked down slightly from 3.698 million to 3.697 million.

The focus on the lackluster jobs recovery has intensified as the number of claims has failed to drop below 400,000 for ten consecutive weeks. The number for the week ending June 11 was revised to 420,000 from 414,000.

"We're seeing revisions to the upside and we're seeing a miss yet again," said Henry Murray, head of trade desk research at Fogel Neale Partners. "We expect the data to look a bit better at the end of the summer and second quarter earnings season will be a better indication of what large corporations intend on doing with employment."

Investors are watching for clues as to whether the soft patch is worse than thought, especially after a gloomy outlook from the Federal Reserve yesterday. Ben Bernanke said that the Fed would be monitoring incoming data to determine if more steps need to be taken to help the ailing economy.

Besides the jobs report, investors are also expecting some bad news on the home sales front today. At 10 a.m. economists are expecting the Census Department to announce that sales fell from 323,000 to 305,000 annualized units in May. Jobless claims and housing are both considered laggards in the economy.

Stock futures were already lower ahead of the jobs data release. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were last losing 114 points, while S&P 500and Nasdaq futures were both dropping by around 15 points.

-- Written by Chao Deng in New York.

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