Leading indicators down
A measure of the U.S. economy’s future health declined slightly in March, signaling that growth could slow this spring.
The Conference Board says its index of leading indicators dipped 0.1 percent last month to 94.7. That’s the first decline after three months of gains. The gauge is designed to anticipate economic conditions three to six months out.
Declines in consumer confidence, housing permits and new orders for manufactured goods pushed down the index.
Higher stock prices and a larger spread between long-term and short-term interest rates offset the decline.
Jobless applications rise
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits increased only 4,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 352,000. The slight gain kept applications at a level consistent with solid hiring and suggests March’s sluggish hiring might be temporary.
The Labor Department report released Thursday also noted that the four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose only 2,750 to 361,250. Because the four-week average changes less than the weekly number, many economists say it better captures the pace of layoffs.
Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They jumped three weeks ago to a four-month high, but then plummeted the next week.
Job growth slowed sharply in March. Employers added only 88,000 jobs last month, much lower than the average monthly gain of 220,000 from November through February.
Yahoo releases new apps
Yahoo is taking the next step in its effort to make some of its most popular services more appealing and accessible to the growing audience connecting to the Internet on smartphones and tablet computers.
The mobile push being orchestrated by CEO Marissa Mayer has hatched Yahoo’s first email application for Apple Inc.’s iPad and other tablet computers running on Google Inc.’s Android software.
Yahoo Inc. also has created a new weather app for Apple’s iPhone that will provide current temperatures and forecasts on top of slideshows featuring pictures of landmarks and other scenery in the cities chosen by a user.