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Jobless Claims  
Released On 4/16/2009 8:30:00 AM For wk4/11, 2009
PriorConsensusActual
New Claims - Level654 K658 K610 K
4-week Moving Average - Level651 K

Highlights
In a mixed report, initial jobless claims fell to a much lower-than-expected level of 610,000, down 53,000 from the 663,000 in the prior week (654,000 first reported). But the latest data are for the holiday shortened Easter/Passover week of April 11. The Labor Department is in fact warning that the results were heavily affected by adjustments. The four-week average, which offers a better gauge when data are distorted, came in at 651,000, which is in line with expectations. In data for the April 4 week, continuing claims jumped again to another record, up 172,000 to above 6 million at 6.02 million. Distorted or not, stock futures did climb a bit in reaction to the report which is seeming to offset a disappointing headline number for housing starts.

Definition
New unemployment claims are compiled weekly to show the number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time. An increasing (decreasing) trend suggests a deteriorating (improving) labor market. The four-week moving average of new claims smooths out weekly volatility.  Why Investors Care
 
[Chart]
Weekly series fluctuate more dramatically than monthly series even when the series are adjusted for seasonal variation. The 4-week moving average gives a better perspective on the underlying trend.
Data Source: Haver Analytics
 
 

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