Americans filing for first time unemployment benefits are hovering near seven-year lows as employers are slowing the pace of layoffs. The Labor Department reported that Weekly Initial Jobless Claims came in at 304,000, below the 312,000 that was expected. The 304,000 is up from 302,000 in the prior week, which was the lowest level since September of 2007. The four-week moving average of claims, which irons out seasonal abnormalities, dropped by 4,750 to 312,000.
Manufacturing in the Philadelphia region picked up this month and comes after a weak reading from New York State released earlier in the week. The Philly Fed Index surged to 16.6 this month, well above the 8.6 that was expected and up from the 9.0 registered in March. Within the report it showed that the employment component rose to 6.9 from 1.7, while the average workweek also increased.
Oil prices continue to move higher due to the ongoing tensions in Ukraine and as a brighter looking U.S. economy signaled an uptick in demand for energy. Higher oil prices are pushing prices higher at the pump and with the onset of the spring and summer driving season, the national average price for a regular gallon of gasoline is at $3.65, up from $3.52 a month ago.