There were 340,000 first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week, down 23,000 from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration reports.
The decline follows something of a spike. But in reality, the drop just means that claims continue to run at the pace they've been setting since late 2011. Since then, the number of new filings each week has pretty much stayed in a range from the mid-300,000s to just under 400,000.
Still, according to Bloomberg News, Thursday's report is modestly good: "Fewer Americans than projected filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, a sign that the job market is sustaining recent gains."
Economists had been expecting to hear there had been 345,000 first-time claims last week. It's fair to note, of course, that when next week's report is released we may learn that the estimate's been revised — possibly to the 345,000 that was forecast.
Update at 10:15 a.m. ET. Sales Of New Homes Rise:
There was a 2.3 percent rise in sales of new homes in April from March, the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development report. At an annual rate of 454,000, sales were up 29 percent from April 2012 and — as in January — were running at a pace not seen since July 2008.
What's more, as The Associated Press notes, "the median price of a home sold in April was $271,600, the highest level on government records going back to 1993. "