U.S. weekly jobless claims fall to 751,000, their lowest level since March

The number of first-time unemployment-benefits filers fell to the lowest level in the pandemic, declining for a second straight week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.Initial weekly U.S. jobless claims came in at 751,000 for the week ending Oct. 24, down from the previous week’s total of 791,000. It was also the lowest initial claims print since the week of March 14, when they came in at 282,000. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected initial jobless claims to come in at 778,000.”We had expected that the steep decline we saw in claims last week would be too big to repeat, but downside momentum in claims remains intact,” Thomas Simons, an economist at Jefferies, wrote in a note. “The question going forward is going to be whether a surge in COVID cases and renewed measures aimed at containing the virus will lead to another spike in claims in the coming weeks.”Thursday’s data brought the four-week moving average for initial claims down to 787,750 from 812,250, the Labor Department said. U.S. stock futures got a lift from the unemployment data, erasing earlier losses and trading slightly higher. Sentiment on Wall Street was also aided by strong third-quarter GDP data. The better-than-expected data came even as lawmakers failed to reach a deal on new U.S. fiscal stimulus. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell adjourned the Senate earlier this week, essentially shutting the door on a potential aid bill being passed before Tuesday’s election. Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus cases is rising across the U.S., raising concern that some parts of the country could re-instate stricter social distancing measures. On Wednesday alone, more than 80,000 coronavirus cases were reported in the U.S., according to an NBC tally. Continuing jobless claims, which include those receiving unemployment benefits for at least two straight weeks, dropped by 709,000 to 7.75 million for during the week of Oct. 17. Data on continuing jobless claims is delayed by one week. Subscribe to CNBC PRO for exclusive insights and analysis, and live business day programming from around the world.

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