In a sign of ongoing labor market strength, the number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits fell for the second week, following a steep increase in early December.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits decreased 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 222,000 for the week ended Dec. 21, the U.S. Labor Department said on Thursday. The number is slightly higher than economist forecasts of 220,000 but down 13,000 from the previous week.
Despite the decline, the four-week average — considered a better measure of labor market trends as it smooths out week-to-week volatility — climbed to 228,000, up 2.8% from one year ago. That’s the highest level since mid-February.
The number of people already collecting unemployment benefits decreased by 6,000 to 1.72 million in the week ended Dec. 14, according to the report.
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With the positive news of lower jobless claims, the stock market rallied on Thursday, continuing the upward trend this month. The Nasdaq Composite briefly crossed the 9,000 mark for the first time ever at midday, while the S&P 500 was trading at a record high 3,235.
Amazon led the gains, spiking 2.6% after the e-commerce behemoth said its 2019 holiday shopping season was “record-breaking.” The company sold “billions” of items worldwide and “tens of millions” of Amazon devices like the Echo dot. Five million new customers started Prime free trials or paid memberships globally, while the number of items that were delivered with one-day or same-day shipping quadrupled compared with last year’s holiday season. Third-party sellers sold more than a billion items, Amazon said.
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