US business productivity grew 0.8% in Q4 2004

US business productivity slowed down in Q4 2004, growing at a 0.8% annual rate, compared to a 1.8% pace in Q3 2004. The rise is weaker than the 1.2% rate economists expected and the smallest in nearly four years. The Labor Department said business productivity rose 4.1% for the year of 2004. Meanwhile, the number of Americans filing initial claims for jobless benefits dropped unexpectedly by 9,000 to 316,000 last week, the second-lowest level since 2001. Analysts had forecast a gain of 5,000.