Fresh applications for unemployment benefits in the US saw a decline last week, hinting a healthy labor market. Unemployment benefit claims dropped to 233,000 for the week ended April 7.
The four-week moving average of initial claims totaled 230,000 last week. The timings of Easter and school spring breaks tend to contribute to volatility in claims. Although March showed the slowest job growth in six months, the unemployment rate currently stands at 4.1%, the lowest in 17 years.
Other data indicated flat import prices but a decline in petroleum product costs. There are concerns over an increase in inflation due to the tight labor market and imported inflation pressures. The market saw one rate hike by the Fed last month and can expect at least two more over the course of this year.
The dollar saw a rise against other currencies on doubts over Syria attacks. Stocks traded higher on Wall Street while U.S. Treasury prices saw a drop.
A report by Reuters stated that import prices grew 3.6% in the 12 months through March. Imported petroleum prices dropped 1.3% in March. Import prices, excluding petroleum, increased 2.1% in the 12 months through March with a 0.1% rise in March alone. During March, the cost of imported food grew 0.6% while imported capital goods prices rose 0.2%.
With growing fears of a trade and tariff war looming the market stalwarts, a positive indication in the labor market is indeed a silver lining.