U.S. Jobless Claims Rise; Import And Export Prices Split

By John McClenahen There continues to be no sign of significant job generation in the U.S. For the week ending July 5, initial claims for unemployment insurance totaled 439,000, an increase of 5,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 434,000, says the U.S. Labor Department. Last week was the 21st consecutive week that the jobless claims figure has been above 400,000. Initial claims need to be running below that level -- as much as 50,000 below that level -- before many economists will conclude that serious job creation is under way. The department's four-week moving average for initial jobless claims also rose last week, moving up 1,000 claims from the previous week to 426,750. Meanwhile, in June the prices on goods the U.S. imports and prices on the goods it exports went their separate ways. With all of its major elements posting increases, the Labor Department's import price index rose 0.8% last month, an exact reverse of its 0.8% decline in May. The petroleum price index increased by 4.7% in June, following falls of 5.4% in May and 18.7% in April. The price index for nonpetroleum imports also turned around, rising 0.5% in June after falling 0.3% in May and 1% in April. On the export side, prices fell 0.2% in June after rising 0.1% in May. Both major components of the department's export price index posted declines in June: Prices for agricultural exports fell 0.8% and prices for nonagricultural goods declined 0.1%. Among nonagricultural goods, higher prices for industrial materials and supplies, autos, and consumer goods were more than offset by prices decreases in capital goods, which account for nearly 50% of U.S. exports.

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