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MNI DATA ANALYSIS: US Jobless Claims Plunge To 209,000>

--Initial Claims Level Lowest Since December 6, 1969
--Initial Claims Four-Wk Average -2,250 To 229,250 Following Five Gains 
--March Durable Goods Orders Jump 2.6%; Ex-Transport Flat
By Kevin Kastner, Sara Haire and Holly Stokes
     WASHINGTON (MNI) - Initial claims U.S. state unemployment benefits 
fell by 24,000 to 209,000 in the April 21 week, well below the 231,000 
level expected by analysts in an MNI survey and the lowest level since 
the December 6, 1969 week, data released by the Labor Department 
Thursday showed. 
     In data released at the same time, the value of U.S. durable goods 
new orders rose by 2.6% in March, much faster than the 1.7% increase 
expected by analysts in an MNI survey. Transportation orders rose 7.6%, 
but new orders excluding transportation orders were flat, according to 
data from the Commerce Department. 
     The soft reading for new orders excluding transportation was below 
the 0.5% gain expected and reflected offsetting movements in the 
categories. Orders excluding transportation have been on a general upward 
trend in recent months, so this pause is not a cause for concern. 
     The four-week moving average for initial claims, which tends to be 
a better measure of the underlying trend of the data, fell by 2,250 to 
229,250 in the April 21 week after rising in the previous five weeks. 
     If the number of headline claims does not change next week and 
there are no revisions to data from the past four weeks, the four-week 
average will fall an additional 8,250 as the 242,000 level in the March 
31 week rolls out of the calculation. 
     Seasonal adjustment factors had expected a decrease of 1.4%, or 
3,259, in unadjusted claims. Instead, unadjusted claims fell by 26,218 
(11.6%) to 199,816. The current week's level was well below the 241,611 
level in the comparable week a year ago. 
     The only states where claims were estimated were Colorado and 
Maine. However, the claims taking procedures in the Virgin Islands and 
Puerto Rico have still not returned to normal.   
     The level of continuing claims fell by 29,000 to 1.837 million in 
the April 14 employment survey week after falling by 12,000 in the 
previous week. Continuing claims were at a level of 1.876 million in the 
March 17 employment survey week, so the resulting 39,000 decrease is a 
positive sign for April payrolls when they are released next week. 
     Before seasonal adjustment, continuing claims fell by 61,686 to 
1.868 million, well below the 2.012 million level seen in the comparable 
week last year. 
     The four-week average for continuing claims, a more reliable 
measure when the continuing claims are rapidly moving week-to-week, fell 
by 9,750 to 1.850 million. 
     The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate held steady at 
1.3% in the April 14 week, down from 1.4% in the same week a year 
     The unemployment rate among the insured labor force is well below 
that reported monthly by the Labor Department because claims are 
approved for the most part only for job losers, not the job leavers and 
labor force reentrants included in the monthly report. 
     Nondefense aircraft and parts new orders posted a second straight 
double-digit gain in March, rising 44.5% after a 39.1% gain in February. 
Defense aircraft and parts fell 9.4% after a 29.2% increase in February. 
     Motor vehicles orders posted a 0.1% increase. In addition, 
transportation orders excluding motor vehicles and aircraft rose by 2.7% 
following a 12.0% increase in the previous month, according to an MNI 
     Nondefense capital goods new orders rose by 6.0%, but were down 
0.1% excluding civilian aircraft. 
     Durable goods shipments rose by 0.3% in March, with nondefense 
capital goods shipments rising 2.2%, but down 0.7% excluding civilian 
aircraft shipments, according to an MNI calculation. 
     Durable goods inventories were up 0.1% in the month, while 
unfilled orders posted a 0.8% increase.  
     ** MNI Washington Bureau: 202-371-2121 ** 

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