(Adds market reaction, analyst comment)
WASHINGTON May 15 The number of U.S. workers
filing claims for initial jobless benefits rose by 6,000 in the
latest week while the number on benefit rolls after a first
week of aid hit a four-year high, a government report showed on
First-time jobless claims rose to 371,000 in the week ended
May 10 from 365,000 for the prior week. Economists surveyed by
Reuters had forecast the number of new claims at 370,000.
The four-week moving average of new claims, considered by
economists a more reliable gauge of labor trends because it
irons out weekly volatility, fell to 365,750 in the week ended
May 10 from 366,750 in the prior week.
"These numbers are not good news. We are in an elevated
unemployment period because of tight credit, higher oil prices,
inflation hurting consumers," said Kurt Karl, chief U.S.
economist at Swiss Re in New York.
"To me, it just continues to deteriorate. It's just
grinding higher in unemployment," Karl said.
U.S. Treasury debt prices turned higher after the jobless
data and a separate New York Federal Reserve manufacturing
report was weaker than expected.
The dollar was little changed in trading and stock futures
The number of people who remained on the benefit rolls
after drawing an initial week of aid increased 28,000 to 3.06
million in the week ended May 3, the latest period for which
figures were available.
It was the third consecutive week that continued claims
were above 3.0 million and also the highest since March 2004.
"Continued claims are solidly above 3 millions ... As we
head further into May, we continued to see layoffs outpacing
hires, which means more job losses. If we are lucky, we could
see another 20,000 decline like in April," Christopher Low,
chief economist with FTN Financial in New York.