The number of people filing for first time unemployment benefits fell sharply in the week ending July 5th, according to the US Department of Labor. Claims fell by 58,000, to 346,000. Economists were expecting 399,000 new claims for the week. It is the lowest reading since April and the largest one-week decline in more than 2 years.

Having witnessed extremely volatile measurements in the past few weeks, it is wise to consider the four-week moving average of initial claims, which smooths out one-time factors such as bad weather or holidays. The four-week moving average was also lower, by 10,000 in the latest week, down to 379,250. A year ago, the four-week average stood at 305,000.

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