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U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Pull Back Off Nearly Eight-Month High

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First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits edged down by less than expected in the week ended December 1st, the Labor Department revealed in a report released on Thursday.

The report said initial jobless claims slipped to 231,000, a decrease of 4,000 from the previous week's revised level of 235,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 225,000 from the 234,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Jobless claims pulled back slightly after the upwardly revised figure for the previous week reflected the highest level since 242,000 in the week ended March 31st.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average rose to 228,000, an increase of 4,250 from the previous week's revised average of 223,750.

The report said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, fell by 74,000 to 1.631 million in the week ended November 24th.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims still crept up to 1,667,000, an increase of 250 from the previous week's revised average of 1,666,750.

On Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its more closely watched monthly employment report for November.

Employment is expected to increase by 205,000 jobs in November after jumping by 250,000 jobs in October, while the unemployment rate is expected to hold at 3.7 percent.

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