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The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly falls, but the country's outlook for economic growth is bleaker. With the reasons why, here's the Thursday Bloomberg After The Bell Report from the New York Stock Exchange.
Fewer Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, showing companies were looking beyond looming government spending cuts and maintaining staff.
The stable headcount is a sign demand is holding up despite rising gas prices and higher payroll taxes. In another positive economic sign, Bloomberg's consumer confidence index rose to its best level this year. The indicator shows the share of Americans with a positive outlook on the economy now matches the high point reached back in March 2008.
Stocks erased earlier gains in the last half hour of trading after news the Senate rejected proposals to stave off Friday's spending cuts.
On the eve of those massive cuts taking effect, the International Monetary Fund says it will lower its growth forecast for the U.S. this year. The IMF had forecast growth of two-percent in 2013, but expects a negative impact of at least half a percentage point if the spending cuts move forward.