NEW YORK (Reuters) - New claims for unemployment benefits dropped to a nine-month low last week, a government report showed on Thursday, suggesting the labor market recovery was gaining momentum.
CHAD MORGANLANDER, PORTFOLIO MANAGER, STIFEL, NICOLAUS & CO, FLORHAM PARK, NEW JERSEY
"That is welcome news (after) the lackluster jobs numbers that we have been seeing over the last 18 months; moving in the right direction, gives firm evidence that the economy is improving, albeit at a glacial pace."
JACOB OUBINA, SENIOR US ECONOMIST, RBC CAPITAL MARKETS, NEW YORK
"This is a clear case of seasonality being an issue. To be sure, you do see a significant pickup in volatility in new claims around the holidays with retailers hiring and firing workers.
"Next week expect some pretty significant payback with a higher print. We're still muddling around 400,000. Nothing significant has changed to move us out of that range."
WILLIAM LARKIN, PORTFOLIO MANAGER WITH CABOT MONEY MANAGEMENT IN SALEM, MASS
"We're getting a kick in the futures from a combination of the rate cut in Europe and this number, which is optimistic. Anytime we see claims trend down, that's a big positive. The market has been patiently waiting for some kind of jobs recovery and this is going to have a pretty big impact, even though it's just one number. This could start to change the mindset if this becomes a trend."
OMER ESINER, CHIEF MARKET STRATEGIST, COMMONWEALTH FOREIGN EXCHANGE, WASHINGTON
"The jobless claims number was good and weighed on the dollar a bit. The slight bounce in risk appetite here is adding to the dollar's heavier tone. We're still trying to see what the ECB has in store for us, though, in terms of liquidity measures or more bond purchases. If the market sees signs they're willing to step up purchases of bonds, that could add to euro upside. But the main event will be tomorrow. So we might see some upside to the euro but I would be surprised if we get a major move."
VIMOMBI NSHOM, ECONOMIST, IFR ECONOMICS, A UNIT OF THOMSON REUTERS
"Although unadjusted claims rose in the week ending December 3, the seasonally adjusted level fell to show that the number of people filing their first claim for unemployed benefits slipped by 23k to 381k. The decline eliminates...two weeks of rising claims -- totaling 12k-- and then some. This reading represents the second lowest claims count of 2011, coming behind a report in late February (375k), which was also a seasonally volatile period. This reference week included the largest seasonal expectation of the year (forecasted claims to rise 48.9%) because of an expected holiday rebound to push claims up, as well as the trend in the past that filers increase this week as the labor market enters a type of "layoff season." Filings did rise (NSA by 151k), but not as much as anticipated."
(Americas Economics and Markets Desk)