The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week to near a 43-year low, an indication of firmness in the labor market which may support an interest rate increase by the U.S. Federal Reserve this year.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 249,000 for the week ended Oct. 1, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast first-time applications for jobless benefits rising to 257,000 in the latest week.
First-time claims were the lowest since April, when initial applications for aid were at levels not seen since November 1973.
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