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Jobless claims hold steady, deflating fears of new economic woes

The number of jobless claims filed for the week ending May 12 hit 370,000 applications, which is unchanged from the previous week's revised figure, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Claims holding steady, rather than increasing, may stave off fears that a shaky jobs sector is derailing a potential recovery in the housing market and overall economy.

Yet, analysts are careful not to equate the lack of change to a positive turnaround in the market. "The four-week average is down sizably for a second week, down 4,750 to 375,000. This is about the same level as the average was in mid April," analysts with Econoday said. "Lack of change here points to little change for the monthly employment report which for April was a disappointment."

Econoday analysts added, "There are no special factors distorting the data. Though claims aren't breaking lower, the good news is that they are holding steady."

The four-week moving average for jobless claims hit 375,000 filings, a decline of 4,750 from the previous week's average of 379,750.

In addition, the total number of people claiming benefits for the week ending April 28, the most recent period on record, was 6.27 million, a decline of 149,759 applications from the previous week.

Unemployment remains a top concern at the Federal Reserve, where recent FOMC meeting minutes suggest new support for additional economic stimulus.

Research firm Capital Economics said back in March only a couple of FOMC members considered the possibility of additional stimulus, but now approximately 4 out of ten members, with two shifting in favor, consider it a definite possibility if the economy loses momentum.

Paul Ashworth, U.S. chief economist for Capital Economics, said FOMC members in favor of QE3 are "still not a majority." He only sees a real push for easing "if the recovery fades, but it does represent a shift in the chances of QE3."

kpanchuk@housingwire.com

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