The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits dipped more than expected last week, pointing to strengthening labor market conditions.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 312,000 for the week ended June 14, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Economists had forecast first-time applications for jobless aid falling to 314,000.
The Federal Reserve said on Wednesday the job market would continue to improve gradually and hinted at a slightly faster pace of interest rate increases starting in 2015.
The U.S. central bank, which has kept overnight lending rates near zero since December 2008, also announced further cuts to its monthly bond buying program.
U.S. stocks were set to open slightly higher. Prices for U.S. Treasury debt rose marginally, while the dollar held losses against the euro and the yen.
A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing the state level data.
The four-week moving average for new claims, considered a better measure of underlying labor market conditions as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 3,750 to 311,750 last week.
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