Watchdog finds progress since sting operation

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department has made progress since a failed gun-smuggling sting operation known as “Fast and Furious,” but more work needs to be done, according to a watchdog report issued Thursday.

The report from the department’s inspector general examined how well the department had put in place six recommendations issued in 2012 in the aftermath of “Fast and Furious.”

The inspector general found that the department satisfied four of six recommendations but needs stronger policies across all of its agencies on firearms transfers.

The report also suggested that the Drug Enforcement Administration needs to revise its policies on confidential informants.

Under Operation Fast and Furious, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed gunrunners to buy weapons in hopes of tracking them and disrupting Mexican gunsmuggling rings. At least one of the guns was found at the scene of the 2010 shooting death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in southern Arizona.

Many top bureau leaders were subsequently reassigned following revelations of the botched operation.

Apps for US jobless aid fell sharply last week

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week in a sign of a stable job market despite the slowing global economy hitting stocks and commodities.

THE NUMBERS

Weekly applications for jobless aid fell 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 269,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, declined slightly to 281,250. The number of people receiving benefits has declined 4.6 percent to 2.2 million from a year ago.

THE TAKEAWAY

U.S. employers still appear to expecting the economy to grow — and a need for more workers. Applications are a proxy for layoffs. The relatively low number suggests that companies are holding onto workers and possibly looking to hire more.

KEY DRIVERS

The domestic economy appears to have withstood the pressures created by a slowing Chinese economy, fragile growth in Europe and a meltdown in developing economies such as Brazil, Russia and Venezuela. U.S. consumers appear to be a critical source of strength. Retailers and restaurants accounted for roughly twothirds of the net job gains last month, while wage growth has accelerated over the past year.

BIG PICTURE

The weekly jobless claims figure has remained beneath a key threshold of 300,000 for almost a full year, a level that usually corresponds with net monthly job gains of 200,000 or more.


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