Thursday, December 15, 2011

Unemployment claims falls to 366,000

Fewer people are looking for unemployment benefits than they have in three years, according to a new report.

Fewer people are looking for unemployment benefits than they have in three years, according to a new report.

The good news on the economic front keeps on coming.

The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits dropped to a three and half year low last week and factory activity in New York state hit a seven-month high in December, providing more evidence that the troubled economy is finally on the mend.

Investors cheered the rosy economic numbers sending the Dow up more than 120 points to 11,944.46 or 1% in early trading.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 366,000, the Labor Department said. That was the lowest level since May, 2008 and it came in lower than the 390,000 predicted by economists.

On top of that, the New York Federal Reserve said its Empire State general business conditions index hit its highest point since May, rising to 9.53 from 0.61 in December. The index was juiced by lots of new orders and a boost in hiring.

The positive economic reports come on the heels of the November unemployment rate dropping to a two and half year low of 8.6%.

Even so, the weak economic picture in Europe continues to cast ominous clouds on the U.S. economy.

The Federal Reserve noted the improvement in the jobs market, but said that unemployment remains high and Europe’s woes remain a risk for the U.S.

Another report from the Labor Department said producer prices rose slightly more than expected in November, while the year-on-year rate for prices excluding food and energy increased by the most in nearly two and half years. 

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