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US producer prices clocked their first monthly decline since August last month, while the the number of Americans applying for first-time weekly unemployment benefits unexpectedly slipped to their lowest level since February, data on Thursday showed.

US producer prices inched lower by 0.1 per cent in March from the previous month when they rose 0.3 per cent, the Labor Department said. That compared to economists expectations for producer prices to remain unchanged. Headline PPI was up 2.3 per cent from a year ago.

Excluding more volatile items like food and energy however, producer prices unchanged from the previous month and up 1.6 per cent from a year ago. Investors watch these figures as these prices are measured before they are passed on to consumers.

Meanwhile, jobless claims fell by 1,000 to 234,000 in the week ending April 8, according to the Labor Department — compared with economists’ estimates for a rise to 245,000.

The data come as the Federal Reserve continues to monitor the health of the US economy as it tightens monetary policy. Policymakers have noted that the US labour market is close to full employment but inflation continues to fall shy of the central bank’s 2 per cent inflation target.

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