Jobless Claims Rise 10,000 to 418,000


NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Initial jobless claims are stubbornly clinging north of 400,000, with the latest reading ticking up slightly to 418,000.

The Department of Labor reported that the number of first-time filers for unemployment benefits rose by 10,000 in the week ending July 16, from a revised 408,000 in the week prior. Initial claims came in above the consensus estimate for 411,000 new claims, representing the fifteenth week that claims have remained above 400,000.

Some of the uptick was due to a state government shutdown in Minnesota which caused 1,750 new claims from state employees. The slash in government workers along with uncertainty in the auto sector after the Japanese earthquake have "clouded some of the signals from the initial claims data," according to a report by Barclays Capital Research.

Meanwhile, the four-week moving average for initial claims decreased from 424,000 in the week ending July 9 to 421,250 in the week ending July 16. The total number of unemployment claims went slipped from 3.748 million to 3.698 million.

The results were "a little disappointing again," said Jay Suskind, senior vice president at Duncan Williams. Coupled with poor monthly unemployment numbers, Suskind says he does not expect any "near-term alleviation" of the initial claims numbers. "I don't really hear anyone painting a rosy picture," he said.

"You can have anomalies like July Fourth, the disruption in Minnesota or excessively hot weather," but until initial claims drop below 400,000 and stay there for a couple of weeks, the market will largely ignore it, said Suskind. "There's just too much supporting information about weakness in the economy and concern over hiring."

-- Written by Chao Deng in New York.

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