Separate figures from the Labor Department showed a drop in new jobless claims,down to 349,000 last week from 377,000 the previous week. But the department said this was probably due to seasonal shutdowns by the big car manufacturers, a regular event in the first two weeks of July. The less volatile four-week average number of claims edged up to 348,750, the highest since January.
New housebuilding starts in the US jumped 4.8 per cent in June, with the biggest rises in the south, midwest and west. It was the first monthly increase since April, with the annual rate of housebuilding increasing to 1.45 million.