Jobless claims post sharp decline to 326,000, better than expectations

The total of Americans submitting jobless claims fell sharply last week as the enhanced unemployment benefits ended, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Initial filings for unemployment benefits totaled 326,000 for the week ended Oct. 2, below the 345,000 Dow Jones estimate and a drop from the previous week’s 364,000.

The numbers came at a time when most pandemic-related programs that extended unemployment benefits are winding down, and amid hopes that declining Covid cases will spark a round of more aggressive hiring heading into the fall.

Stock market futures rose slightly following the report, adding to already strong gains. Government bond yields also were higher.

The weekly total was the lowest level since Sept. 4 and reverses a trend of rising claims over the past three weeks.

However, the four-week moving average, which smooths weekly volatility in the numbers, edged higher to 344,000.

This is breaking news. Please check back here for updates.

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