The Labor Department said that first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell 11,000 to 382,000 in the latest week, which was better than economist's forecast of 388,000. The Labor Department added that initial claims haven't been this low since March 2001, despite the previous weeks claims being revised higher to 393,000 from 388,000.
The more closely watched four-week average for initial claims dropped 250 to 392,000. A year ago, the four-week average was 399,250.
Continuing claims for state benefits rose 12,000 to 3.7 million in the week ending June 22, while the four-week average fell by 23,000 to 3.72 million. A year ago, the four-week average was 2.98 million.
The jobless claims show that the labor market is slowly recovering from the recent recession. While layoff rates appear to be reflected in the initial jobless claims numbers, the rise in continuing claims shows the economy isn't generating enough new jobs to get extended benefits claimants back on the job.
On Friday, the Labor Department will release the June jobs report. Economists expect the strongest pace of net job growth in more than a year at about 80,000, but they also anticipate that the jobless rate will tick higher to 5.9%, from May's 5.8%.
In May, an estimated 8.35 million Americans were unemployed, or 5.8% of the 142.7 million Americans in the workforce. In May, roughly 134.42 million Americans were working.
Stock futures recover, but still lower
Stock futures have recovered somewhat from earlier lows, but still indicate a lower open for stocks. S&P futures currently trade down 2.4 points at 945.20. NASDAQ futures are down 1 point at 9,66 and Dow futures are off 26 point at 8,972.
Fair value for the S&P 500 today is $1.30. That price will not change during the session. HL Camp & Company has their computers set for program buying at $2.15 and set for program selling at $-1.02. Fair value for the NASDAQ-100 today is $4.25.
Markets here in the U.S. will be closed tomorrow in observance of Independence Day, and Friday will be a shortened trading day. Option traders not wanting to experience potential time erosion in option contracts may want to be very selective today.