The payment: The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits in early January fell for the fifth consecutive week, which gave the strong U.S. job market clean health in 2020.
Initial jobless claims fell by 10,000 to 204,000 in the seven days ending January 11, the government said on Thursday. The numbers are seasonally adjusted.
Economists surveyed by MarketWatch predicted a reading of 220,000.
Unemployment information is seen as a rough measure of how many people lose their jobs. They fell to a 50-year low of 193,000 last April and since then have mostly hovered between the low 200,000.
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What happened: Some companies have cut their jobs in recent months, particularly in the manufacturing, energy, and transportation sectors, but layoffs are still extremely low across the economy.
New demands rose sharply last week in California and also in Texas and Missouri, but these increases were more than offset by sharp declines in New York, Wisconsin and South Carolina.
The monthly average of new applications decreased from 224,000 to 216,250. The four-week average filters out some of the weekly ups and downs of claims.
The number of people already claiming unemployment benefits, so-called continuing claims, fell by 37,000 to 1.77 million. It reached its highest level since April last week.
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Big picture: Despite the occasional reports of job cuts, many companies are still hiring and few are firing employees. The economy created 145,000 new jobs in December and kept the unemployment rate at a 50-year low of 3.5%.
A stable labor market, low US interest rates and a relaxation of trade tensions with China should extend economic expansion in a record year 11 to the end of 2020, analysts say.
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Market reaction:The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA, + 0.92%
and S & P 500
SPX, + 0.84%
trades rose on Thursday. The stocks hit new records this week after the partial ceasefire between the United States and China.
The 10-year return on the treasury
TMUBMUSD10Y, + 0.87%
rose to 1.81%.