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Jobless claims rise but stay near pre-recession levels; August durables swoon

A Sears customer shops near General Electric appliances in Schaumburg, Illinois, September 8, 2014.
Jim Young | Reuters
A Sears customer shops near General Electric appliances in Schaumburg, Illinois, September 8, 2014.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose less than expected last week, suggesting an acceleration in job growth in September.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 293,000 for the week ended Sept. 20, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 300,000 last week.

The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 1,250 to 293,500.

A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing the state level data. Claims are hovering near their pre-recession levels, an indication that labor market conditions are tightening despite August's sharp slowdown in job growth.

The jobless claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid edged up 7,000 to 2.44 million in the week ended Sept. 13.

The data for the so-called continuing claims covered the household survey week from which the unemployment rate for September will be calculated.

Continuing claims fell 89,000 between the August and September survey weeks, suggesting some improvement in the unemployment rate. The jobless rate was at 6.1 percent in August.

Durable goods plunge

photovideostock | Vetta | Getty Images

Orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods in August posted their biggest drop on record as the prior boost from aircraft unwound, but a rebound in business spending plans pointed to underlying strength in the manufacturing sector.

The Commerce Department said durable goods orders, items ranging from toasters to aircraft that are meant to last three years or more, dropped 18.2 percent, the largest decline since the series started in 1992. That partially reversed July's aircraft-driven 22.5 percent surge.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast durable goods orders falling 18 percent last month after a previously reported 22.6 percent jump in July.

Orders for the volatile transportation category declined 42.0 percent last month as civilian aircraft orders tumbled 74.3 percent. Transportation orders had soared 315.6 percent in July.

Boeing reported on its website that it had received 107 orders last month, a third of July's outsized gains. Orders for automobiles fell 6.4 percent after rising 10.0 percent the prior month.

The underlying trend in new orders, however, is up and further gains are likely in the months ahead.

A survey early this month showed a measure of new orders jumped to a near 10-1/2-year high in August and businesses showed an increased appetite for capital spending.

Manufacturing, one of the pillars of the economy, is being supported by firming domestic demand, which is helping to offset some of the weakness due to slowing growth in the euro zone and China.

Excluding transportation, durable goods orders rose 0.7 percent after falling 0.5 percent in July.

Non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, rose 0.6 percent. The so-called core capital goods orders fell by a revised 0.2 percent in July, which was previously reported as a 0.7 percent decline.

Core capital goods shipments edged up 0.1 percent last month after July's upwardly revised 1.9 percent increase. Shipments of these goods are used to calculate equipment spending in the government's gross domestic product measurement. They were previously reported to have increased 1.5 percent in July.