US jobless claims fall, labour market recovery advances
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
Britain’s 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 he’s 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,