Jobless Claims Fall To 358,000

Jobless claims last week fell to 358,000, (one of) the lowest levels in months, the Labor Department reported.

The four-week moving average, which smooths out seasonal fluctuations, fell to 366,250, nearly a four-year low.

“It not only validates the gains that we had last month … but it shows that we are likely to add to those gains in a meaningful way in February,” Millan Mulraine, senior macro strategist at TD Securities in New York, told Reuters.

Meanwhile, the picture is only somewhat less rosy for those receiving continuing claims: for the week of January 16-20, 4 million Americans were receiving regular unemployment checks from their states, about half a million fewer than a year ago, and 2.98 were receiving emergency unemployment benefits, about one million fewer than last year.