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First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly decreased in the week ended September 27th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.

The report said initial jobless claims fell to 287,000, a decrease of 8,000 from the previous week's revised level of 295,000.

The pullback came as a surprise to economists, who had expected jobless claims to climb to 297,000 from the 293,000 originally reported for the previous week.

The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average also edged down to 294,750, a decrease of 4,250 from the previous week's revised average of 299,000.

With the decrease, the four-week moving average fell to its lowest level since hitting its post-recession low of 293,750 in the week ended August 2nd.

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First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly decreased in the week ended September 27th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.

The report said initial jobless claims fell to 287,000, a decrease of 8,000 from the previous week's revised level of 295,000.

The pullback came as a surprise to economists, who had expected jobless claims to climb to 297,000 from the 293,000 originally reported for the previous week.

by RTT Staff Writer

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The European Central Bank left its key interest rates unchanged at a record low, after reducing them in a surprise move last month, as economic momentum in the euro area remains subdued.

The Governing Council, led by President Mario Draghi, held the refinancing rate at a record low 0.05 percent following its policy meeting in Naples, Italy on Thursday. 

The bank kept the deposit rate at -0.20 percent and the marginal lending rate was maintained at 0.30 percent. The decision was in line with economists' expectations. 

The three main interest rates were lowered by 10 basis points in September on the premise that euro area inflation would slow in the coming months. 

The bank had slashed the deposit rate from zero to negative in June, which in effect meant charging Eurozone banks for parking excess funds at the ECB, which was a first for a leading central bank.

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The European Central Bank on Thursday left its key interest rates unchanged at a record low, in line with economists' expectations, after reducing them in a surprise move last month.

The Governing Council, led by President Mario Draghi, held the refinancing rate at a record low 0.05 percent, following its policy meeting in Naples, Italy.

The bank today kept the deposit rate at -0.20 percent and the marginal lending rate was maintained at 0.30 percent.

The three main interest rates were lowered by 10 basis points in September as euro area inflation is set to slow in the coming months.

The bank had slashed the deposit rate from zero to negative in June, which in effect meant charging Eurozone banks for parking excess funds at the ECB, which was a first for a leading central bank.

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The Bank of England sought more powers to regulate mortgage lending in order to protect property market from overheating and avert risks to financial stability.

The Financial Policy Committee of BoE on Thursday requested powers to limit mortgage lending for both owner-occupied and buy-to-let property.

The panel asked for power to set a limit on loan-to-value ratio and overall household debt relative to income, including interest rate coverage ratio in respect of buy-to-let lending.

The regulator said, taken together, these instruments are necessary, and should be sufficient, to tackle risks to financial stability that could emerge from the housing market in the future.

Further, in a letter to Chancellor, Governor Mark Carney said the Help to Buy scheme does not pose material risks to financial stability. The scheme does not appear to have been a material driver of house price growth, he said.

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Eurozone's producer prices declined at a faster than expected rate in August, a report from Eurostat showed Thursday.

Producer prices dropped 1.4 percent year-over-year in August, which was more than the 1.2 percent fall expected by economists. In July, producer prices had decreased at a revised 1.3 percent.

Excluding energy prices, producer prices fell 0.2 percent in August, which was faster than the 0.1 percent drop in July.

Among the sub-components, energy prices fell the most, by 4.4 percent. This was followed by the 0.6 percent decrease in prices of intermediate goods and the 0.2 percent drop in non-durable consumer goods prices.

Meanwhile, prices of durable consumer goods and that of capital goods declined 1 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

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U.K 's construction activity growth quickened unexpectedly in September, results of a survey by Markit Economics and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply, or CIPS, showed Thursday.

The Markit/CIPS construction purchasing managers' index, or PMI, edged up to 64.2 in September from 64 in August. Economists had expected the index to decrease to 63.5.

This marked the fastest rate of increase since January and the second fastest rate in seven years.

Commercial construction activity increased at the strongest pace since January. Civil engineering activity accelerated to its most marked pace in six months.

Meanwhile, housing activity, though remaining the fastest growing area of construction output, grew at its weakest rate since May.

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Hungary's trade surplus was revised downwards in July, final figures from the Hungarian Central Statistical Office showed Thursday.

The trade surplus came in at EUR 482 million in July, less than the EUR 498 million surplus estimated earlier.

This was EUR 50 million more than the trade surplus recorded in July 2013.

Exports grew 9.2 percent and imports climbed 9 percent in July.

In the January to July period, trade surplus rose EUR 237 million over the year to EUR 3.8 billion.

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Romania's producer prices rose at a stable rate in August, a report from the National Institute of Statistics showed Thursday.

Producer prices increased 0.5 percent year-over-year in August, the same rate as in July.

Domestic producer prices rose 0.8 percent in August, which was faster than the 0.3 percent increase in the previous month.

Meanwhile, producer prices in the foreign market remained unchanged following the 1.1 percent climb in July.

Among the sub-sectors, prices in the manufacturing sector were flat in August while prices in the mining and quarrying sector rose 4.3 percent.

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The dampening effect of the sterling's past appreciation will peak by the end of 2014 and then begin to fade, Kristin Forbes said on Wednesday in her maiden speech after joining the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England.

Sterling's past moves have reduced the risk of inflation increasing sharply, despite the strong growth in employment and the overall economy, she noted.

"A "top down" analysis estimating the pass-through from exchange rate movements to prices suggests that the lagged effect of sterling's appreciation during 2013 and early 2014 may have acted as a powerful dampening effect on inflation," Forbes said.

"But as these calming effects on inflation gradually dissipate, it will become even more important to monitor prospective signs of domestic price pressures to avoid the troublesome inflation sprite," the banker said.

"It is becoming increasingly important to monitor trends in domestically-generated inflation -and especially unit labor costs - so that monetary policy can be adjusted appropriately and also be allowed to work through the economy with its own set of lags," Forbes said.

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Rate decision from the European Central Bank and Eurozone producer prices are some of the important economic data expected to come out on Thursday.

The European Central Bank is due to announce its rate decision at 7:45 am ET. After the rate cut in the previous month, the central bank is expected to maintain its refinancing rate and deposit rate at 0.05 percent and -0.2 percent, respectively.

Following the announcement, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi will hold the customary post-meeting press conference at 8:30 am ET.

At 3 am ET, the Hungarian Central Statistical Office is scheduled to release its final trade balance report for July. Earlier, a trade surplus of EUR 497.6 million was estimated.

Around the same time, Romania's National Institute of Statistics is due to release its producer prices report for August. In July, producer prices had risen 0.5 percent year-over-year but declined 0.1 percent month-over-month.

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Lack of monitoring of the shadow banking system is a risk to financial stability, the International Monetary Fund, or IMF, said late Wednesday.

According to the Global Financial report from IMF, shadow banking amounted to around 7 trillion dollars in emerging markets. This is outpacing the growth of traditional banking systems.

"Shadow banking tends to take off when strict banking regulations are in place, which leads to circumvention of regulations," Gaston Gelos, chief of the Global Financial Analysis Division at the IMF, said.

"It also grows when real interest rates and yield spreads are low and investors are searching for higher returns, and when there is a large institutional demand for 'safe assets,' for example from insurance companies and pension funds."

However, shadow banking is risky due to its reliance on short-term funding, which can lead to forced asset sales and downward price spirals when investors want their money back at short notice, the report said.

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The Reserve Bank of Australia is concerned about the riskier lending practices in property market, Assistant Governor Malcolm Edey and Luci Ellis, head of financial stability department, said Thursday.

The central bank officials said discussions on measures to curb unhealthy practices are ongoing and "there will be more to say about them in due course."

Edey emphasized that Australian banks are resilient and mortgage lending has historically been relatively safe.

However, the regulatory authority noted a trend to riskier lending practices, and over the past couple of years has been seeking to temper these through its supervisory activities.

The central bank discussed with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority "steps that might be taken to reinforce sound lending practices, particularly for investor finance, though not necessarily limited to that," they said.

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Japanese companies maintained their inflation estimates for the next year and coming five years, a survey from the Bank of Japan showed Thursday.

Firms forecast inflation of 1.5 percent in the coming year, unchanged from the previous estimate published in April.

According to Inflation Outlook of Enterprises, companies sees inflation to rise to 1.6 percent in three years and to 1.7 percent in five years. The estimates were left unrevised.

Large manufacturers kept its one year inflation outlook at 1.1 percent and large non-manufacturers see 1.2 percent inflation, higher than the 1.1 percent projected in April.

Inflation estimate of companies is still below the Bank of Japan's 2 percent forecast.

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New Zealand's commodity prices declined at a slower rate in September, results of a survey by ANZ showed Thursday.

The ANZ commodity price index slid 1.3 percent month-over-month in September following the 3.3 percent drop in August. This marked the seventh consecutive month of fall in prices.

Prices of dairy products declined the most, as skim milk powder prices dropped by 14 percent to its lowest level since June 2012.

Meanwhile, beef prices recorded the highest increase for the third successive month as prices rose 10 percent. This marked a record high.

Commodity prices in terms of local currency recovered by 1.6 percent month-over-month following the 0.4 percent fall in August, as the New Zealand dollar depreciated against the currencies of most of the major trading partners of the country. This was the first increase since February.

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Australia had a merchandise trade deficit of A$787 million in August, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday.

That beat forecasts for a shortfall of A$800 million following the upwardly revised A$1,075 million deficit in July (originally A$-1,395 million.

Exports were down 2.0 percent on month to A$26.372 billion.

Non-monetary gold tumbled A$252 million (21 percent), while rural goods dropped A$142 million (4 percent) and non-rural goods were down A$17 million.

Net exports of goods under merchanting remained steady at A$8 million. Services credits fell A$1 million.

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Australia had a merchandise trade deficit of A$787 million in August, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday.

That beat forecasts for a shortfall of A$800 million following the upwardly revised A$1,075 million deficit in July (originally A$-1,395 million.

Exports were down 2.0 percent on month to A$26.372 billion, while imports dipped 3.0 percent to A$27.159 billion.

by RTT Staff Writer

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The total number of building approvals issued in Australia was up a seasonally adjusted 3.0 percent on month in August, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday, coming in at 16,810.

That beat forecasts for an increase of 1.0 percent following the 2.5 percent gain in July.

On a yearly basis, building approvals climbed 14.5 percent - also topping expectations for 12.7 percent following the 9.4 percent jump in the previous month.

Permits for private sector houses fell 1.8 percent on month but gained 12.2 percent on year to 9,231, while permits for dwellings excluding houses jumped 9.6 percent on month and 17.5 percent on year to 7,348.

by RTT Staff Writer

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The monetary base in Japan surged 35.3 percent on year to 245.816 trillion yen in September, the Bank of Japan said on Thursday, after soaring 40.5 percent in August.

Banknotes in circulation added 3.5 percent on year, while coins in circulation collected an annual 0.9 percent - both unchanged from the previous month.

Current account balances jumped 65.2 percent, including a 69.4 percent spike in reserve balances.

The seasonally adjusted base was up 8.3 percent after gaining 40.8 percent in the previous month.

For the third quarter, the monetary base jumped an annual 39.4 percent.

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Australia will on Thursday release a raft of data on Thursday, highlighting a modest day for Asia-Pacific economic news. On tap are August numbers for import, exports and trade balance, new home sales and building approvals. The Reserve Bank of Australia also will give its annual report.

The trade balance is expected to show a deficit of A$800 million following the A$1.395 billion shortfall in July. Building approvals are tipped to add 1.0 percent on month and 12.7 percent on year after gaining 2.5 percent on month and 9.4 percent on year in the previous month. New home sales fell 5.7 percent on month in July.

Japan will see August numbers for loans and discounts, as well as September figures for monetary base. Loans were up 2.0 percent on year in July, while the monetary base surged an annual 40.5 percent in August.

Thailand will provide September numbers for its consumer confidence index; in August, the index had a score of 80.1.

Finally, markets in China and Hong Kong remain closed on Wednesday for the National Day holiday.

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