Economists digested some grim data on the US economy yesterday, with official figures showing that new claims for unemployment benefits had climbed to an eight-month high, while productivity growth slowed over the first three months of the year.
Initial benefit claims rose by 43,000 to 474,000, the highest since August, the Labour Department said. The spike was at odds with hopes of a fall to 410,000. A separate report showed that productivity in the non-farm sector had advanced at an annual rate of 1.6 per cent in the first quarter.
Although ahead of market hopes, the pace marked a slowdown in the 2.9 per cent rate seen during the last quarter of 2010.