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New weekly claims for unemployment fell last week to the lowest level in four and a half years.

Adolfo Laurenti, the deputy chief economist for Mesirow Financial, says that the report is a good sign for the overall employment situation. "This is good progress, you can still claim that it is slow paced, uneven around the country, but it is progress nonetheless." The claims data is consistent with other recent indicators of the labor market, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics September jobs report.

Elsewhere around the world, the S&P has downgraded the soveign debt of Spain. Accordingly, the yield on Spanish bonds is going up -- which of course only increases the pressure on Spain. "This is not exactly surprising," says Laurenti, "at the same time, there is no denial that Spain is making huge efforts to improve their fiscal position with austerity and economic reform, so the timing is a little bit disappointing to be honest."


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