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US weekly jobless claims rise but stay on trend

New claims for US unemployment insurance benefits rose more than expected last week but remained within the trend this year, Labour Department data released on Thursday showed.

WASHINGTON: New claims for US unemployment insurance benefits rose more than expected last week but remained within the trend this year, Labour Department data released on Thursday showed.

Initial jobless claims, a sign of the pace of layoffs, rose to 348,000 in the week ended February 22, a gain of 14,000 from the prior week's revised reading of 334,000.

The increase came in well above analysts' average estimate of 335,000.

The four-week moving average of claims, which helps to smooth week-over-week volatility, was unchanged from the previous week's revised average of 338,250.

The Labour Department did not indicate any particular factor driving the national increase in claims. Oregon cited bad weather, while California reported more than 5,800 layoffs in the service industry.

New claims have generally stayed below 350,000 since mid-2013, as the labour market modestly improves.

The US unemployment rate slipped to 6.6 percent in January, down 0.6 percentage point from October, amid modest job growth.

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