WASHINGTON (August 9, 2012)--Economic numbers pointed in different directions Thursday.
The Commerce Department reported Thursday that wholesale companies cut back their stockpiles in June as sales fell by the most in three years, a possible signal of slower growth in the coming months.
Wholesale inventories dropped 0.2 percent in June, while sales at the wholesale level fell 1.4 percent.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the number of Americans filing first claims for unemployment benefits fell by 6,000 last week to a seasonally-adjusted 361,000.
The less volatile four-week average rose by 2,250 to 368,250.
Both figures suggest hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate, which was 8.3 percent in July.
And, the U.S. trade deficit fell to its lowest level in 18 months in June, pushed down by a steep drop in oil imports and a small rise in exports.