New claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, but not enough to assuage fears the labor market recovery has taken a step back.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 422,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday, less than economists’ expectations for a fall to 415,000.
The claims report falls outside the survey period for the government’s closely watched data on nonfarm payrolls for May.
The government is expected to report on Friday that employers hired 150,000 last month, according to a Reuters survey, after increasing payrolls by 244,000 in April.
“Every indication we have had so far points to a slightly softer labor market in the U.S.,” said Camilla Sutton, chief currency strategist at Scotia Capital in Toronto.
U.S. stock index futures held gains after the data, while U.S. bond prices extended losses. The dollar also extended losses against the euro.
There is a risk that May payrolls could come in below consensus after ADP, a payroll service company, reported private employers added only 38,000 last month, the smallest number since September.