US jobless claims exceed forecast

One day after the U.S. central bank signaled a possible end to America’s longest recession since World War II, new data suggest continued weakness in several economic sectors.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Less than 24 hours after the Federal Reserve proclaimed the recession to be easing, the United States has been hit with a quadruple batch of somber economic news.

Retail sales down, business inventories cut, jobless claims up and home foreclosures hitting a new record high.

Economic data included a slight rise in the number of people filing initial jobless claims.

The Labor Department says 558,000 newly-laid off Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, 4,000 more than the previous week.

The jobless total is now at a 25 year high, having accelerated over the last five months. In October last year it was 6.6 percent of the working population; now it is at 8.5 percent and economists at the US central bank have said it could hit 10 percent.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department reports American businesses cut inventories 1.1 percent in June, the tenth consecutive monthly decline.

And, despite recent signs of a turnaround in America’s battered housing industry, a private group reports the number of new home foreclosure filings rose 7 percent in July from the previous month, and are up nearly a third from a year ago.

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