In the U.S., initial claims for unemployment benefits fell to a seasonally adjusted 271,000 last week, some 36,000 fewer claims than the previous week's revised figure of 307,000, the U.S. Labor Department reported on Jan. 19. Economists had expected a claims figure of about 300,000.
Meanwhile, the department's four-week moving average dropped below 300,000 for the first time in a long time. A decrease of 12,000 claims from the previous week brought the average down to 299,000. The four-week moving average is often a better indicator of underlying labor market conditions because it smooths out week-to-week changes in claims.