The US economy continued to show signs of resilience, according to the latest jobless claim and GDP data, potentially complicating the Federal Reserve’s plans to slow the pace of its monetary tightening campaign as it combats elevated inflation.
Initial state unemployment claims ticked up slightly to 216,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis in the week ending December 17, up from a revised 214,000 the week before, according to labour department data. But that was still lower than the 222,000 unemployment aid applications economists expected.
Continuing claims, which include the number of people who have previously received unemployment insurance, decreased by 6,000 to 1.67mn from a figure revised up to 1.68mn the prior week. Economists expected an increase.
Earlier this month, initial unemployment claims rose to their highest number since February, which had seemed to signal a cooling job market. But Thursday’s figures suggest the labour market remains resilient and at this point withstanding the Fed’s efforts to cool the economy.
The S&P 500 was down 1.5 per cent in morning trading on Thursday. Before the release of the data, futures tipped the benchmark index to open about 0.3 per cent lower.
Separately, the commerce department released its final estimate for the country’s third-quarter real gross domestic product, which was unexpectedly revised up to an annual rate of 3.2 per cent from a previous estimate of 2.9 per cent.
The update “primarily reflected upward revisions to consumer spending and non-residential fixed investment,” the commerce department said.
The overall increase in third-quarter GDP came after two consecutive quarters of economic contraction as exports, consumer spending, non-residential fixed investment, and local, state and federal government spending all increased.
The Fed’s preferred inflation metric, the core personal consumption expenditures price index, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, was revised up for the third quarter to 4.7 per cent from the previous quarter, compared to a previous estimate of 4.6 per cent.
Earlier this month, the US central bank slowed the pace of its rate increases. Fed officials quickly sought to stamp out doubts it would not squeeze the economy with the necessary force needed to lower inflation that remains elevated even though it may have peaked.