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May 3, 2012 at 2:03 PM
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Stocks slip Thursday

NEW YORK, May 3 (UPI) -- U.S. stocks slipped Thursday after the Labor Department reported non-farm labor costs had risen 2 percent in the first quarter.

Labor productivity fell 0.5 percent on an annual basis with productivity up 2.7 percent and hours worked up 3.2 percent.

The department also said there were 27,000 fewer first-time unemployment benefit claims filed in the week ending Saturday. During the week, 365,000 initial benefit claims were filed.

The European Central Bank in Germany elected to keep its lending rate intact at 1 percent, giving markets in Europe a boost. But markets in New York lost ground.

In early afternoon trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average shed 79.27 points, 0.6 percent, to 13,189.30. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index lost 36.59 points, 1.2 percent, to 3,023.26. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 11.11 points, 0.79 percent, to 1,391.20.

The 10-year benchmark treasury note rose 1/32 to yield 1.926 percent.

The euro fell to $1.3145 from Wednesday's $1.3158. Against the yen, the dollar rose to 80.31 yen from 80.13 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index added 0.31 percent, 29.30, to 9,380.25.

In London, the FTSE 100 index added 0.15 percent, 8.44, to 5,766.55.

First-time jobless claims drop by 27,000

WASHINGTON, May 3 (UPI) -- First-time jobless claims dropped by 27,000 in the week ended Saturday, with 365,000 initial claims filed, the U.S. Labor Department said

The four-week rolling average, which provides a steadier assessment than the weekly figures that can be volatile, rose marginally, up by 750 to 383,500.

The biggest increases in initial jobless claims for the week ended April 21 were all in the Northeast.

In New York, first-time claims for that week rose 15,467. In Massachusetts they rose by 4,333 and in Connecticut they rose by 1,776.

Concurrently, the largest decreases were in New Jersey (down by 5,748), Pennsylvania (down by 3,080) and Wisconsin (down by 1,841).

The U.S. unemployment rate is 8.2 percent, unchanged from February to March. The Labor Department's fresh look at the unemployment data is set to be released Friday.

Labor productivity slid in first quarter

WASHINGTON, May 3 (UPI) -- Labor productivity in non-farm businesses fell at a 0.5 percent annual rate during the first quarter of 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Thursday.

From the first quarter of 2011 to the first quarter of this year, productivity increased 0.5 percent as hours worked rose 2.2 percent and output rose 2.8 percent, the Labor Department's statistical office said in a release.

BLS data indicated unit labor costs in non-farm businesses rose 2 percent in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter of last year, as hourly compensation increased 1.5 percent.

From the first quarter of 2011, unit labor costs rose 2.1 percent.

Manufacturing sector productivity rose by 5.9 percent in the first quarter with output up 10.8 percent and hours worked up 4.6 percent. These increases were both the largest since the second quarter of 2010.

Layoff announcements rose in April

CHICAGO, May 3 (UPI) -- U.S. employers announced a reduction of 40,559 jobs in April, a moderate increase from the 37,880 layoffs announced in March, a private research group said.

Total job cuts announced for the month were up 7.1 percent from the previous month, outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas said Thursday.

For the year to date, layoff announcements are 9.8 percent higher than they were in the same period in 2011.

From the first of the year through April, there have been 183,653 job cuts announced. For the same period a year earlier, 167,239 job cuts had been announced.

For April, the job cuts in education came to 9,027, a jump of 142 percent from the 3,733 education sector job cuts in March.

The job cuts reflect the budgeting difficulties of state governments faced with spending cuts.

Although job cuts in education surged in April for the year to date the 14,710 job cuts in the sector are down from the same period a year earlier.

In January through April of 2011, there were 21,505 job cuts in the education sector.

The consumer products sector has announced the most layoffs so far this year with 20,134 job cuts planned.

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