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U.S. jobless claims rise modestly

Staff Writer |
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits increased less than expected last week.

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This is suggesting the labor market continued to tighten after recent hurricane-related disruptions.

Other reports, however, offered a less favorable look at the economy.

The goods trade deficit widened in September and retail inventories fell, prompting the Atlanta Federal Reserve to trim its third-quarter GDP growth estimate.

In addition, signed contracts to buy previously-owned homes were unchanged last month.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 233,000 for the week ended October 21, the Labor Department said.

Claims fell to 223,000 in the prior week, which was the lowest level since March 1973.

Economists had forecast claims rising to 235,000 in the latest week.

They have declined from the almost three-year high of 298,000 hit at the start of September in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which ravaged parts of Texas and Florida.

The impact of Harvey and Irma has largely dropped out of the claims data for the mainland United States.

But Irma and Hurricane Maria continue to impact claims for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, now virtually isolated because of the destruction of infrastructure due to the storms.

A Labor Department official said claims data for the islands had continued to be estimated.

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