U.S. Jobless Claims Soar; Retail Sales Rise

By John S. McClenahen The U.S. labor market shows new signs of weakness. After three weeks of being below the 400,000 mark, initial claims for unemployment insurance soared to 441,000 last week, reports the U.S. Labor Department's Employment & Training Administration. That number was 83,000 higher than the revised figure of 358,000 initial claims for the week ending Nov. 30. The Labor Department's four-week moving average is now at 387,250 claims, some 10,000 higher than its previous mark. In contrast, retail sales in November were better than economists generally expected. The U.S. Commerce Department figures that retail sales were $302.5 billion last month, up 0.4% from September's level and their best showing in three months. Economists had anticipated a 0.3% rise.

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