NEW YORK (Reuters) - The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly rose last week, a government report showed on Thursday, as companies continued to cut payrolls amid uncertainty over the economic outlook.
KEY POINTS: * Initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits rose 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 576,000 in the week ended August 15 from 561,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said. * Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast new claims slipping to 550,000 last week from a previously reported 558,000. * A Labor Department official said there were no special factors influencing the report. * The number of people collecting long-term unemployment benefits edged up 2,000 to 6.24 million in the week ended August 8, the latest week for which the data is available. However, the four-week moving average declined 2,500 to 6.27 million.
JOHN SPINELLO, TREASURY BOND STRATEGIST, JEFFERIES & CO, NEW YORK:
"They were a little surprising on the upside. There was also upward revisions (to the previous week). The jobless claims four-week moving average is moving up this week -- it has been up for the last three or four weeks, which is really not a good sign. The labor market is still suffering. It is disappointing."
"These numbers are definitely not going in the right direction. It's not good at all and the report is indicative that this is definitely not going to be a V-shape recovery. For a real recovery we need the consumer to be in the game but with rising unemployment the consumer is not going to be out there spending. The dollar will remain soft for some time. There's no real growth and interest rates are way too low to support any sustained strength in the currency."
ZACH PANDL, ECONOMIST, NOMURA SECURITIES INTERNATIONAL, NEW YORK:
"Claims have been choppy in recent weeks. We still think jobless claims have peaked and they are on a downward trend. This is a reminder that the job market conditions are challenging.
"I expect the August payroll report to be similar to the one last month so we should see another month of job losses."
LINDA DUESSEL, MARKET STRATEGIST, FEDERATED INVESTORS, PITTSBURGH:
"I think that we're hoping for the numbers to stay below 600,000, and not until we get below 500,000 can we be more certain that there is an economic recovery.
"It can be more difficult to reach that number, but the summertime is a little distorted, and we're going to see the number come down as the auto companies ramp up production. That's something we should expect.
"What we look at is the four-week averages, these have been clearly trending down for months, so its moving in the right direction. Also, the difference between the actual number and the estimate isn't that big of a surprise."
MARKET REACTION: STOCKS: U.S. stock index futures pare gains BONDS: U.S. Treasury debt prices erase losses DOLLAR: U.S. dollar dips versus yen