U.S. weekly jobless claims total 207,000, higher than expected as omicron rages

2 weeks ago

Initial claims for unemployment insurance ended 2021 on a sour note, rising more than expected at a time when the omicron variant spread rapidly through the U.S., the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Jobless claims totaled 207,000 for the week ended Jan. 1, a bit higher than the 195,000 forecast and up 7,000 from the previous period.

Still, the latest data shows claims are still well-anchored around a level that is even lower than before the Covid-19 pandemic, when claims were averaging around 215,000. The four-week moving average, which accounts for weekly volatility in the numbers, nudged higher to 204,500 for the current period

Continuing claims which run a week behind the headline number, also rose, climbing to 1.75 million, for an increase of 36,000.

In other economic news, the U.S. trade shortfall for goods and services jumped to $80.2 billion in November, an increase from October's $67.2 billion but below the Dow Jones estimate of $81.5 billion. The total brought the trade shortfall close to September's record $81.4 billion as the deficit increased with China, the European Union and Canada.

The jobs market, though, is the big focus this week as investors await the closely watched nonfarm payrolls report that the Labor Department will release Friday. Economists expect to see a gain

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