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U.S. Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Drop To Seven-Month Low

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A day ahead of the release of the more closely watched monthly jobs report, the Labor Department released a report on Thursday showing an unexpected decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended November 30th.

The report said initial jobless claims slipped to 203,000, a decrease of 10,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 213,000. The drop came as a surprise to economists, who had expected jobless claims to inch up to 215,000.

With the unexpected decrease, jobless claims fell to their lowest level since hitting 193,000 in the week ended April 13th.

The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average also edged down to 217,750, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's unrevised average of 219,750.

Meanwhile, the report said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, rose by 51,000 to 1.693 million in the week ended November 23rd.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims came in at 1.681 million, unchanged from the previous week's revised average.

On Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its more closely watched report on the employment situation in the month of November.

Economists expect employment to increase by 180,000 jobs in November after climbing by 128,000 jobs in October, while the unemployment rate is expected to hold at 3.6 percent.

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