US unemployment aid applications fall
Weekly applications for US unemployment aid fell last week to a seasonally adjusted 369,000, a level consistent with modest hiring. The labour department said on Thursday that unemployment benefit applications dropped by 23,000, from a revised 392,000 the previous week. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose to 368,000. The figures appear to have stabilised after being distorted in the previous two weeks by seasonal adjustment problems. Applications are a proxy for layoffs. When they fall below 375,000, it suggests hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate. Employers have added an average of nearly 150,000 jobs a month. That’s barely enough to lower the unemployment rate, which has declined from 8.3% to 7.8% this year.
Procter & Gamble profit tops estimates
Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest consumer-products maker, reported first-quarter profit that topped analysts’ estimates as it increased prices and reduced manufacturing costs. Net income slid 6.9% to $2.81 billion, or 96 cents a share, from $3.02 billion, or $1.03 a share, a year earlier, the company said on Thursday in a statement. Excluding some items, profit was $1.06 a share. The average of 18 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg was 96 cents. Sales fell 3.7% to $20.7 billion. CEO Bob McDonald is working to introduce new products and reduce costs after cutting the company’s profit forecast three times in its previous fiscal.
Unilever sales spruced up by China demand
Unilever’s quarterly sales growth beat forecasts as demand for cleaning and personal care products in China helped the consumer goods group outshine larger rival Nestle. Shares in the maker of Dove soap and Cif cleaners climbed on Thursday to equal their all-time high as the Anglo-Dutch group shrugged off the worries about slowing growth in China that have rattled a procession of consumer goods companies recently. It is probably our best quarter out of the last three quarters so it is really very, very good growth throughout our categories, finance chief Jean-Marc Huet said of the group’s Chinese business, adding Russia was also growing strongly. Unilever posted underlying sales growth of 5.9% in the third