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US jobless claims rise most since 2017, topping estimates

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Filings for US unemployment benefits rose the most since late 2017, while still remaining in the range of what's considered a tight labour market.

[WASHINGTON] Filings for US unemployment benefits rose the most since late 2017, while still remaining in the range of what's considered a tight labour market.

Jobless claims rose 37,000 to 230,000 in the week ended April 20, according to Labour Department figures Thursday that matched the highest estimate in Bloomberg's survey. The four-week average, a less-volatile measure, increased to 206,000.

The increase in claims snapped a five-week streak of declines, the longest since 2016, indicating that while the labour market may have cooled somewhat it remains robust. Employers in several regions and industries confront higher turnover and find it difficult to hire workers, according to the latest Federal Reserve Beige Book.

A Bloomberg survey of economists forecast a gain of 200,000 in the period. The rise in claims for the week was the most since September 2017, according to the Labour Department.

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Market voices on:

"Jobless claims continue to point to tight labour market conditions. The number of workers filing new applications for unemployment increased more than expected, but it is not unusual to see some volatility in the week before or after the Easter holiday. Jobless claims will likely revert back to the pre-holiday trend," said Eliza Winger, economist.

Continuing claims, which are reported with a one-week lag, rose slightly to 1.655 million in the week ended April 13.

The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 1.2 per cent.

The prior week's claims were revised up to 193,000 from the 192,000 initially reported, which was the lowest level since Sept 1969.

BLOOMBERG