Jobless figure lifts confidence in US recovery

The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits has hit a three-and-a-half year low, bolstering views that the world’s biggest economy is gaining momentum, even though third-quarter growth was revised down.

Other data released yesterday underscored the firming tone in the US economy, with consumer sentiment scaling a six-month high in December and a barometer of future activity rising more than expected last month.

The claims figures helped to take the sting out of a separate report from the US commerce department showing that gross domestic product grew at a 1.8 per cent annual rate in the third quarter.

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Growth, which had previously been reported to have expanded at a 2 per cent pace, was held back by a sharp drop in healthcare spending. Spending on durable goods was stronger than previously estimated.