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Jobless Claims Preview: Estimates Call For Slight Drop

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The U.S. Department of Labor will release the weekly jobless claims data at 8:30 a.m. ET. The consensus forecast is for a slight dip to 279,000 in the week of July 18 from 281,000 the previous week, with estimates ranging from range from 275,000 to 300,000, according to Bloomberg News.

Jobless claims are compiled weekly to show the number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time.

The four-week moving average, which is used to smooth out the volatility of the weekly report, has leveled off recently at the 280,000 level, levels last seen in March of 2000. That said, nearly 17 million Americans remain unemployed or underemployed, an unusually high number after six years of economic expansion.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is keeping a close watch on the jobs market as it considers the timing of an interest rate hike. The latest report will be covers the sample week of the monthly employment report, so it will be viewed with even closer scrutiny than usual.

In front of the jobless claims release, S&P 500 futures were showing a gain of 0.15 percent at 2111.50.

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