Jobless Claims Rise; Spending, Incomes Up Too - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Jobless Claims Rise; Spending, Incomes Up Too

MSNBC.COM - New claims for jobless benefits rose for the first time after two months of steady declines, but the increase was slight, was within expectations and claims remained below the key 400,000 mark, government data showed Wednesday.

Meanwhile, consumer spending rose a notch in October even though incomes increased by a faster pace. And orders for long-lasting products such as washing machines, automobiles and aircraft fell for the second straight month in October.

In all, it was a mixed bag of reports for the economy, which has been showing signs of speeding up of late. On Tuesday, the government reported that the economy grew at a 2.0 percent pace in the third quarter, down from an initial estimate of 2.5 percent. Despite the decline, there were signs in the GDP report that bode well for fourth-quarter growth. In particular, a decline in inventories in the July-September quarter could mean businesses will have to rebuild inventories in the fourth quarter, which, in turn, could propel growth.

That could help the country avoid a recession, which is expected in the euro zone. But economists still see a risk of a U.S. recession next year, especially if lawmakers allow extended unemployment benefits and a payroll tax cut to expire at the end of 2011.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits climbed to a seasonally adjusted 393,000 from an upwardly revised 391,000 in the prior week, the Labor Department said. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 390,000 from the previously reported 388,000. The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends, fell 3,250 to 394,250, the lowest since April.

The Commerce Department said orders for durable goods fell 0.7 percent in January following a September decline of 1.5 percent. Orders for core capital goods, considered a good proxy for business investment spending, dropped 1.8 percent, the biggest decline since a 4.8 percent fall in January. Manufacturing has been one of the strongest sectors in the economy in this sub-par recovery, but this sector slowed this year as consumer demand faltered and auto factories had trouble getting parts following the March natural disasters in Japan.

The Commerce Department also reported that spending increased 0.1 percent last month, the poorest gain in four months. But incomes increased 0.4 percent, the best showing since March. Private wages and salaries drove the income gain.

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