Applications for jobless aid decline
The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell 24,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 334,000, a sign that steady job gains should continue.
The drop left unemployment benefit applications at the lowest level in 10 weeks, the Labor Department said Thursday. Some of the decline may have been caused by seasonal factors.
Still, the broader trend has been favorable. The four-week average, which smooths out fluctuations, fell 5,250 to 351,000.
Weekly applications data can be volatile in July. Automakers typically shut their factories in the first two weeks of the month to prepare for new models, which leads to a temporary spike in layoffs. But this year, much of the industry has skipped or shortened the shutdowns to keep up with stronger demand.
Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They have declined 5 percent since January. The drop has coincided with stronger job growth.
Price of oil hits 16-month high
The price of oil shot to a 16-month high Thursday on signs the U.S. job market is improving, although not by enough to prompt the Federal Reserve to pull back on its bond-buying program.
Benchmark crude for August delivery rose $1.56 to finish at $108.04 a barrel, the highest close since March 19, 2012.
Oil has jumped more than $11 a barrel in July, and pushed up the price of gasoline along with it. Gasoline futures have gained 13 percent since July 1, and the average price for a gallon of gas at the pump has risen 18 cents, or 5 percent, to $3.67.