The number of U.S. citizens filing for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, approaching 42-year lows as labor market conditions continue to tighten.
The Labor Department said earlier Wednesday that initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 260,000 for the week ended Nov. 21.
The prior week's claims were revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported. Claims have now stayed below the 300,000 threshold for 38 weeks in a row - the longest streak in years, and remain close to levels last seen in the early 1970s. Numbers below this level are usually associated with a healthy jobs market.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected claims dipping to 270,000 last week.
Separately, the Commerce Department said that personal spending rose by a seasonally adjusted 0.1% last month, below expectations for 0.3%. In September, personal spending climbed 0.1%. Consumer spending is the biggest source of U.S. economic growth, accounting for as much as two-thirds of economic activity.
Personal income grew by a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in October, in line with projections, after rising 0.2% a month earlier.
The core PCE price index was flat in October, below expectations for a 0.1% gain and after adding 0.2% in September. The core PCE price index rose at an annualized rate of 1.3% last month, in line with expectations and unchanged from September.
The U.S. central bank uses core PCE as a tool to help determine whether to raise or reduce interest rates, with the aim of keeping inflation at a rate of 2% or below.
In another report, the U.S. Commerce Department said that total durable goods orders, which include transportation items, increased by a seasonally adjusted 3.0% in October, beating forecasts for 1.5%. Orders for durable goods in September were revised to a fall of 0.8% from a previously reported 1.2% drop.