The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, offering reassurance that the bottom is not falling out of the labour market despite signs of slower growth. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 339,000 the labour department said on Thursday. The prior week's number was revised to show 3,000 more applications than previously reported. Analysts had expected 351,000 new claims last week. A labour department analyst said there was nothing unusual in the data and no states had estimated their claims. The report runs counter to several weeks of signals that economic activity has softened over the last two months, a phenomena economists have dubbed the spring swoon because it also happened in the previous two years. The four-week moving average for new claims, a less volatile measure of labour market trends, fell 4,500 to 357,500.
Britain avoids recession as first quarter growth jumps
Britains economy dodged a return to recession and grew faster than expected in the first three months of this year, providing some political relief for a government under fire over its austerity drive. The office for national statistics said Britain's GDP rose 0.3% in the first quarter, well above forecasts for a 0.1% rise. The economy shrank shrank 0.3% quarter-on-quarter in late 2012, so a second contraction would have put Britain into its third recession in less than five years. Year-on-year, the latest GDP reading was 0.6% higher, the strongest rise since the end of 2011. Finance minister George Osborne said Thursday's data was encouraging and vowed to stay the course on fixing Britain's budget problems. We all know there are no easy answers to problems built up over many years, and I can't promise the road ahead will always be smooth, but by continuing to confront our problems head on, Britain is recovering, he said in a statement.
Putin denies hes returning Russia to Stalinism
President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he was not returning Russia to the era of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and denied any political motive in the prosecution and jailing of opponents. In response to a question from a liberal journalist at his annual phone-in, Putin said he saw no element of Stalinism in the country since his return to the presidency last May. He said Russia must never return to the cult of personality, repressions and labour camps under Stalin, who controlled the Soviet Union for three decades until his death in 1953, but that this did not mean Russia should not have order and discipline. Nobody is putting anyone behind bars for their political views, Putin added in reply to a question about the jailing last year of two female members of the Pussy Riot protest group and the trial of protest leader Alexei Navalny on theft charges.
Dead Boston bomber was in terror database
The federal government added the name of the dead Boston Marathon bombing suspect to a terrorist database 18 months before the deadly explosions, US officials said. The surviving suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, told authorities that his older brother, Tamerlan, 26, only recently recruited him to be part of the attack, two US officials said on Wednesday. The CIA, however, named Tamerlan to a huge, classified database of known and suspected terrorists 18 months ago, officials said, an acknowledgment that will undoubtedly prompt congressional inquiry about whether the Obama administration adequately investigated tips from Russia that Tsarnaev had posed a security threat.
Budget cuts likely to trim US bookings: Raytheon
Mandatory US budget cuts that took effect on March 1 will likely trim Raytheon Cos US bookings by $400 million to $600 million this year, as expected, but no new surprises have emerged, the company's chief financial officer said on Thursday. David Wajsgras, senior vice president and CFO, told Reuters in an interview that Raytheon's first-quarter results exceeded the company's expectations and its businesses remained well-aligned with the US government's priorities in missile defense, electronic warfare and cyber operations. Wajsgras said Raytheon continues to see strong international demand for its products, and international bookings are expected to rise 20% in 2013 to account for 36% of total bookings. As a result, international sales would comprise about 27% to 29% of the company's revenues in 2013, he said.