The number of new claims for jobless benefits jumped more than expected last week. Claims had fallen in five out of the previous six weeks, and most economists expect that trend to continue but at a slow pace, with employers still reluctant to hire.
The Conference Board said Thursday that its index of leading economic indicators rose 1 percent last month after a 0.4 percent gain in August, beating economists’ expectations.
The group said the indicators’ 5.7 percent growth rate in the six months through September was the strongest since 1983, but joblessness is weighing on the rebound. Dips in manufacturing hours worked and building permits, a gauge of future construction, were the only two measures out of 10 that weighed down the index. It is meant to project economic activity in the next three to six months.
The six-month rate is consistent with annual economic growth of about 8 percent, said Paul Dales, U.S. economist at Capital Economics. It’s unlikely the rebound will be that strong, however, as the index may be “distorted” by the Federal Reserve’s rock-bottom interest rates and market liquidity measures, he said.
The government will report on third-quarter economic growth next week.