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U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Drop To 204,000

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A report released by the Labor Department on Thursday showed first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly decreased in the week ended January 11th.

The report said initial jobless claims fell to 204,000, a decrease of 10,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 214,000. The drop came as a surprise to economists, who had expected jobless claims to inch up to 216,000.

The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average also slid to 216,250, a decrease of 7,750 from the previous week's unrevised average of 224,000.

Continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, also fell by 37,000 to 1.767 million in the week ended January 4th.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims still rose to 1,755,500, an increase of 10,500 from the previous week's revised average of 1,745,000.

Last Friday, the Labor Department released a separate report showing the pace of U.S. job growth slowed by more than expected in the month of December.

The report said non-farm payroll employment climbed by 145,000 jobs in December after spiking by a revised 256,000 in November.

Economists had expected employment to increase by about 164,000 jobs compared to the jump of 266,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

Meanwhile, the report said the unemployment rate came in at 3.5 percent in December, unchanged from the previous month and in line with economist estimates.

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