NEW YORK (Reuters) - New claims for unemployment benefits fell slightly last week but a trend reading rose to its highest since January, the latest sign of a weaker pace of healing in the still-struggling labor market.
BETH ANN BOVINO, SENIOR U.S. ECONOMIST, STANDARD & POOR'S RATINGS SERVICES, NEW YORK
"The claims number is below 400,000 but it is still no longer below the 350,000 which would have put us firmly in recovery mode. That is a concern. This would increase concerns over what we saw earlier this year was really a fluke.
"The warm weather did distort the winter numbers, but it's not all weather. On a year-over-year basis, companies are hiring. They have to fill these spots. Still it's certainly disturbing that we are not seeing these numbers heading down. I think that what we are seeing is a pullback from what we saw in the winter."
DAVID ADER, HEAD OF GOVERNMENT BOND STRATEGY, CRT CAPITAL GROUP, STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT
"A higher-than-expected figure and the highest since January is giving the (Treasuries) market a bit of a goose following up on earlier, subdued, strength."
JOE MANIMBO, SENIOR MARKET ANALYST, WESTERN UNION BUSINESS SOLUTIONS
"This was a disappointing number and offers more evidence that the labor market continues to lose traction. For the dollar, this should add to the risk-off feel in the markets."
PHIL FLYNN, SENIOR MARKET ANALYST WITH PFG BEST IN CHICAGO
"They came in a lot higher than expected, which probably is raising a bit of concern again. It seems to suggest what the Fed said yesterday, which is that the economy is growing but not as fast as we'd like. We'll be in the slog for a while and obviously stocks took a little tumble on it. This could take some momentum away."
STOCKS: U.S. stock index futures edge lower.
BONDS: U.S. Treasury debt prices extend gains.
FOREX: Dollar steady at higher levels versus the euro.
(Americas Economics and Markets Desk; +1-646 223-6300)