U.S. jobless claims last week eased to a five-week low, while December housing starts surged the most since June 2008, further evidence that the U.S. economy got a running start on 2013.
U.S. housing starts in December jumped 12.1 percent to 954,000 from the previous month's downwardly revised level. It was the most housing starts in a month since June 2008. The biggest contributor to the gain was an increase in construction of multi-family buildings.
First-time claims for unemployment benefits fell 37,000 to 335,000, down from the previous week's revised 372,000 and the biggest weekly drop since February 2010. The more representative four-week moving average slipped 359,250 from the previous week's revised four-week average of 366,000.
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