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Unemployment Claims Dip, Trade Deficit Falls

The gap between U.S. exports and imports dropped 10.7% in June


The U.S. economy received two bits of good news this morning.

The Labor Department announced that first-time claims for unemployment benefits dropped by 6,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 361,000 last week.

Jobs Report Leaves QE3 Door Open
Jobs Report Leaves QE3 Door Open

That beat the 370,000 initial claims predicted by economists, Reuters noted.

Despite last week’s dip, the four-week average increased 2,250 to 368,250. Last month, the unemployment rate ticked up to 8.3%.

Separately, the Commerce Department said that the U.S. trade deficit declined 10.7% to $42.9 billion in June. That, too, was better than the $47.5 billion trade gap that economists had expected.

The lower trade deficit was driven by a sharp fall in crude oil prices. U.S. exports rose 0.9% to $185 billion, while imports slipped to $227.9 billion, down 1.5%.

U.S. exports to Europe fell 1.7% to $23.3 billion, while exports to China dropped 4.3%.

Economists cited by Reuters said that the better-than-expected unemployment claims suggested that improved hiring seen in July was continuing into August, while the smaller trade deficit showed that the U.S. economy had “stabilized” at a low rate of growth, and was not slipping into recession.

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