Unemployment claims drop 15,000

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the number of laid-off workers filing claims for unemployment benefits dropped 15,000, the largest amount since it dropped 22,000 in early September.

However, analysts say the numbers can be deceiving because of volatile numbers around the holidays and the fact that during the previous week, claims were at the highest level since February. And the four-week average for claims continued rising to 340,250—the highest level in two years.

In addition, economists are expecting a weakened economy as a result of the housing downturn, credit crunch and increasing energy prices.

Overall economic growth is expected to slow to a 1.5 percent annual rate during the current October-December period and become even weaker in 2008's first quarter, bringing a threat of recession. Wall Street is hoping for a rate cut from the central bank when Federal Reserve officials meet next week.

Date : 12/10/2007