U.S. Jobless Claims Decline; Retail Sales Are Flat

By John S. McClenahen Depending upon whether you're looking at initial claims for unemployment insurance or retail sales data, the "soft patch" that Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan says the U.S. economy is in just got a bit smaller or stayed the same size. For the week ending Nov. 9, initial jobless claims fell to 388,000, some 8,000 fewer than the revised figure of 396,000 for the week ending Nov. 2, says the U.S. Labor Department. Economists generally believed initial claims would rise to about 400,000. Data for the Labor Department's four-week moving average of claims also show a decline, with claims down to 396,750 from their previous mark of 403,250. Meanwhile, the U.S. Commerce Department's data for October retail sales show virtually no change from September. October retail sales, adjusted for seasonal differences but not for inflation, were $301.7 billion. That's a better performance than the 0.2% decline that economists generally expected.

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