Unemployment Rate

Jobless Claims Lowest in Four Years

But a second report points to weakening demand

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The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell sharply last week to the lowest level in more than four and a half years, according to government data on Thursday that suggested improvement in the labor market.

The news could help President Barack Obama in his tight race for re-election on November 6 against Republican challenger Mitt Romney, who says Obama has mishandled the economy.

But a second report released on Thursday hinted at weaker U.S. and global demand. The U.S. trade deficit widened in August to $44.2 billion, as U.S. goods exports fell for the fifth consecutive month and imports declined fractionally.

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