U.S. weekly jobless claims post largest drop in almost two years
New applications for U.S. unemployment benefits recorded their biggest drop in nearly two years last week, pointing to a further tightening in the labour market. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 25,000 to a seasonally adjusted 234,000 for the week ended April 1, the Labour Department said on Thursday. The drop was the largest since the week ending April 25, 2015. The prior week’s data was revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported. Claims have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated with a healthy labour market for 109 straight weeks. That is the longest stretch since 1970 when the labour market was smaller. The labour market is currently near full employment. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast first-time applications for jobless benefits falling to 250,000 last week. A Labour Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing last week’s claims data. Claims for Louisiana were estimated. The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labour market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 4,500 to 250,000 last week.
ECB to stick to policy plan despite calls for tightening: Draghi, Praet
The European Central Bank will stick to its policy plan including bond buying and record-low rates for some time to come as it is not yet convinced the euro zone economy is back to rude health, its president and chief economist said on Thursday. Mario Draghi and Peter Praet’s remarks suggest the ECB won’t change its policy message this month despite mounting calls from Germany for it to wind down its stimulus. They confirm an exclusive Reuters report from last week. Draghi said he saw no need to deviate from the ECB’s stated policy path, which includes bond buying at least until the end of the year and record-low rates until well after that to stimulate inflation. "I do not see cause to deviate from the indications we have been consistently providing," Mario Draghi said at a conference in Frankfurt.
Brazil annual inflation seen approaching target in March
Brazil’s annual inflation rate is likely to hit a 6-1/2 year low and approach the government target, helped by easing food costs and moderating increases in the price of imports as the Brazilian currency strengthens, a Reuters poll showed on Wednesday. Consumer prices were seen rising 4.57 percent in the 12 months through March, down from 4.76 percent in the previous month, according to the median of 22 estimates that ranged between 4.52 and 4.63 percent. That inflation rate would be lowest since August 2010. The government targets inflation at 4.5 percent. Last Thursday, Brazil’s central bank said that lower inflation could allow it to step up its pace of interest rate cuts and help pull the economy out of its worst recession on record. Consumer prices were seen increasing 0.25 percent in March from February, slowing from a 0.33 percent rise in the previous month, according to the median of 25 forecasts of between 0.20 and 0.30 percent.