Sharp Drop in U.S. Jobless Claims

New claims for jobless benefits neared a four-year low last week, dropping by 35,000 claims—sharper than economists predicted—according to the U.S. Department of Labor. New orders for durable goods manufactured in the United States, however, also dropped in June. Automakers are shutting down fewer temporary plants than in the past, making labor-department statistics volatile, as many auto companies have layoffs around this time of year. Last week, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said he’d be willing to take further action to improve the economy if employment levels didn’t increase.