US jobless claims tick up from multi-decade low

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The number of Americans applying for first-time unemployment benefits climbed last week but remained at a low level consistent with a healthy labour market and should do little to dampen the view among investors that the Federal Reserve will move to raise interest rates when it meets next week.

US jobless claims rose by 20,000 to 243,000 last week, according to the Labour Department. While the figure came in higher than the 238,000 the market was expecting, it remains below last year’s four-week moving average of 259,750.

The lack of a major uptick in jobless claims comes just a day after ADP data showed a surge in private sector jobs growth and adds to the upbeat view over Friday’s closely watched official nonfarm payrolls report.

In the wake of the ADP figures — which showed the US private sector adding 298,000 jobs in February, the most in nearly three years and well above predictions for a rise of just 187,000 — analysts at both Goldman Sachs and UBS revised upwards their predictions for tomorrow’s jobs report. Goldman increased its forecast by 25,000, to more than 215,000, while UBS upped its prediction to 225,000, from the previous 200,000.

The market consensus is calling for a gain of 200,000.

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