New unemployment claims increased to a two-year high last week, the Wall Street Journal reports. A total of 407,000 Americans filed for jobless benefits, an increase of 38,000 over the previous week and the most since 2005. The surge in claims far surpassed the outlook of economists in a Dow Jones Newswire survey; they predicted an increase of 4,000.
In more positive data, the Institute for Supply Management said the service sector lost fewer jobs in March than it had over the first two months of the year. Its index beat expectations, rising to 49.6 from 49.3 in February and 44.6 in January—50 is the threshold for growth.