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Economic Indicators

U.S. weekly jobless claims rise; monthly producer price gains slow

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© Reuters. An “Apply Now” sign stands outside the new Faccia Brutta Bar Pallino looking to hire employees on Newbury Street in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., April 27, 2022. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, but there is no material shift in labor market conditions, with demand for workers strong and shortages rampant.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 203,000 for the week ended May 7, the highest since February, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 195,000 applications for the latest week.

Claims have been largely treading water since hitting a more than 53-year low of 166,000 in March. Economists blamed the second straight weekly increase on volatility in the data around moving holidays like Easter, Passover and school spring breaks.

There were a record 11.5 million job openings on the last day of March, and nonfarm payrolls rose 428,000 in April, the 12th straight month of employment gains in excess of 400,000. Claims have dropped from an all-time high of 6.137 million in early April 2020.

The Fed last week raised its policy interest rate by half a percentage point, the biggest hike in 22 years, and said it would begin trimming its bond holdings next month. The U.S. central bank, which started raising rates in March, is hoping to bring the demand and supply of labor back in alignment.

Tight labor market conditions are boosting wages, helping to keep inflation unbearably high. But there are signs inflation has probably peaked, at least when measured on an annual basis.

In another report on Thursday, the Labor Department said the

producer price index for final demand rose 0.5% in April as gains in the cost of energy products moderated. The PPI surged 1.6% in March. In the 12 months through April, the PPI increased 11.0% after accelerating 11.5% in March.

Economists had forecast the PPI gaining 0.5% for the month and increasing 10.7% year-on-year.

The slowdown in monthly producer price gains follows a similar trend in consumer prices last month. The government reported on Wednesday that consumer prices logged their smallest rise in eight months in April. The annual increase in consumer prices also slowed for the first time since last August.

Economic Indicators

Ukraine removes fuel price restrictions to increase supply – economy minister

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Drivers stay in line outside a petrol station as they try to buy fuel, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine May 11, 2022. REUTERS/Viacheslav Ratynskyi

KYIV (Reuters) – Ukraine’s government has lifted restrictions on fuel prices to enable traders to import more and make up the shortage Ukraine is experiencing after Russian forces destroyed many storage facilities and logistics chains, the economy minister said on Tuesday.

“We … suspended price regulation in order to enable market operators to saturate the market … so that they will be able to deliver all the resources available on the European market, and not only from the European market,” Yulia Svyrydenko said in an online interview with Ukrainian television.

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Economic Indicators

Motor vehicles boost U.S. business inventories in March

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An assembly worker of Ford Motor works on an F-series pickup truck at the Dearborn Truck Plant in Dearborn, Michigan, U.S., January 26, 2022. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. business inventories increased slightly more than expected in March, lifted by a jump in motor vehicle stocks, government data showed on Tuesday.

Business inventories rose 2.0% after increasing 1.8% in February, the Commerce Department said. Inventories are a key component of gross domestic product. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast inventories rising 1.9%.

Inventories surged 14.7% on a year-on-year basis in March. Retail inventories increased 2.3% in March, instead of 2.0% as estimated in an advance report published last month. That followed a 1.6% increase in February.

Motor vehicle inventories rose 1.6% instead of 1.2% as estimated last month. They increased 1.4% in February. Retail inventories excluding autos, which go into the calculation of GDP, shot up 2.5%, rather than 2.3% as estimated last month.

Inventory investment slowed in the first quarter from the October-December period’s robust pace. That, together with a record trade deficit, weighed on gross domestic product, resulting in the economy contracting at a 1.4% annualized rate in the first quarter.

Wholesale inventories increased 2.3% in March. Stocks at manufacturers gained 1.3%.

Business sales rose 1.8% in March after climbing 1.2% in February. At March’s sales pace, it would take 1.27 months for businesses to clear shelves, unchanged from February.

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Economic Indicators

U.S. Retail Sales Kept Up Strong Growth in April, Keeping Fed Rate Hikes on Track

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© Reuters.

By Geoffrey Smith

Investing.com — The U.S. consumer kept spending in April, shrugging off concerns that high inflation and the looming prospect of an economic slowdown might act as a brake.

Retail sales grew 0.9% from March, and March’s data were revised up to show a gain of 1.4% from February, double the 0.7% initially reported. That left the annual rate of retail sales growth at a robust 8.2%.

Nor was that all down to rising prices for groceries and gasoline. Excluding food and energy costs, core retail sales grew 0.6%, more than the 0.4% predicted. Here, too, March sales were revised up to a gain of 2.1% from an initial 1.4%.

Financial markets took the data as a sign that the Federal Reserve will persevere with a string of hefty interest rate hikes over the course of the next few months. The yield on the interest-rate sensitive 2-year Treasury note rose 8 basis points to 2.64%, while the benchmark 10-Year yield rose 6 basis points to 2.94%.

S&P 500 futures, meanwhile, edged down 3 points but were still posting solid gains of over 1% for the overnight session.

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