The U.S. Department of Labor reported that initial claims for unemployment insurance increased by 28,000 in the last week of the month. Claims totaled a seasonally-adjusted 385,000, a 7.8 percent increase from last week’s unrevised figure of 357,000 and about 10 percent higher than expectations.
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The Markit Eurozone Composite PMI report for March, released on Thursday morning, showed that the decline in business activity accelerated for the second month in a row and is declining at its fastest rate since November. Output has fallen for 18 of the past 19 months.
The ECB also announced on Thursday that it kept its benchmark rate unchanged. Some economists are expecting central bank President Mario Draghi to begin pursuing more unconventional policies in the near future. Meanwhile, Japan’s central bank announced that it would pursue an ambitious stimulus program. After his first policy meeting as head of the bank, Haruhiko Kuroda committed to open-ended asset purchases and suggests that the monetary base could double to 270 trillion yen ($2.9 trillion) by the end of 2014. This stimulus, $1.4 trillion over two years, is aimed at shocking the nation’s economy out of years of stagflation…