Jobless claims unexpectedly fell last week, according to data from the Labor Department Thursday.
New filings for unemployment benefits fell by 4,000 to 218,000. Economists had expected a rise to 225,000.
The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better indicator of job market strength because it evens out week-to-week volatility, also fell.
Continuing claims for state unemployment benefits dropped to 1.7 million, the lowest since December 1973.
Overall retail sales rose 0.8 percent from the prior month, double the consensus economic estimate of 0.4 percent, according to Commerce Department data released Thursday. The prior month was revised up to 0.4 percent, indicating a stronger April than earlier data suggested.
The retail “control group” sales, which excludes some of the more volatile numbers, rose 0.5 percent, which also exceeded forecasts.
The results likely reflect the high levels of consumer confidence, a very strong labor market, and lower taxes. The unexpected strength in the control group, which excludes gas stations sales, indicates that higher fuel prices have not stolen consumer demand from other sectors of the economy
The Federal Reserve said yesterday that it would raise its target interest rate range by a quarter of a point, citing a strong labor market and other signs of economic expansion. Fed chief Jerome Powell described the economy as “very strong” in a press conference Friday.