Brasília (AFP) - A Brazilian Supreme Court justice Thursday suspended powerful Lower House speaker Eduardo Cunha Thursday for obstructing efforts to investigate him as part of the Petrobras corruption scandal engulfing the country, a judicial source said. Cunha, a key opponent of President Dilma Rousseff and architect of impeachment proceedings against her, "used his office for his own illicit ends to prevent the success of investigations against him," prosecutors said in asking the court to take action. In March, the Supreme Court voted to put Cunha on trial, accusing him of taking $5 million in bribes as part of a vast embezzlement and bribery network centered on state oil giant oil Petrobras.
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, posting the biggest gain in more than a year, but the underlying trend continued to point to a strengthening labor market. Another report on Thursday showed a 35 percent surge in planned layoffs by U.S.-based employers last month. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 17,000 to a seasonally adjusted 274,000 for the week ended April30, the Labor Department said.