- The Washington Times - Friday, May 1, 2009

The number of claims filed for unemployment insurance decreased by 14,000 in the week ending April 25, compared with the previous week, according to a Labor Department report released Thursday.

The number of claims was 631,000, which was 14,000 less than the 645,000 claims filed in the week ending April 18.

Still, the overall number of unemployed U.S. workers continued to increase from 6.27 million in the week ending April 18, compared with 6.13 million the previous week.

The 133,000 increase sets a record for the 13th straight week.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up early gains and ended about 17 points lower on Thursday after President Obama confirmed that Chrysler LLC will be going through a bankruptcy reorganization, the Associated Press reported.

The Dow fell 17.61 points, or 0.2 percent, to 8,168.12, after rallying 121 points in early trading.

Broader stock indicators were mixed. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.83 points, or 0.1 percent, to 872.81, while the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 5.36 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,717.30.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 3.91, or 0.8 percent, to 487.56 points.

About nine stocks rose for every seven that fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 1.74 billion shares.

The Dow’s biggest loser on Thursday was JPMorgan Chase & Co., a Chrysler bond holder. General Motors Corp., another troubled automaker and a Dow component, finished higher despite the Chrysler news.

Exxon Mobil also lost ground Thursday. The oil company’s first-quarter profit fell 58 percent from a year ago to the lowest level in more than five years.

The Fed said Wednesday that the pace of the economy’s contraction appears to be slowing, and Thursday’s economic news mostly supported that view.

Chicago Purchasing Managers’ index, which measures business conditions across Illinois, Michigan and Indiana, jumped to 40.1 in April from 31.4 in March. The index is considered a precursor to the Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index, which is due Friday.

Americans spent less than expected in March, pulling back after a burst of buying in the first two months of the year. The reversal was tied to a larger-than-anticipated decline in income.

Commerce Department data released Thursday showed consumer spending fell 0.2 percent in March, ending an otherwise strong quarter for spending on a sour note, the Associated Press said. Americans’ incomes tumbled 0.3 percent for the month, reflecting wage cuts and layoffs as employers cut costs. Both the income and spending figures were weaker than economists had expected.

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