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U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Far Exceed Economist Estimates

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First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits came in well above economist estimates in the week ended February 13th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday, with claims rising from a significantly upwardly revised level.

The report said initial jobless claims inched up to 861,000, an increase of 13,000 from the previous week's revised level of 848,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 765,000 from the 793,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average edged down to 833,250, a decrease of 3,500 from the previous week's revised average of 836,750.

The report said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, also fell by 64,000 to 4.494 million in the week ended February 6th.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims slid to 4,632,000, a decrease of 120,250 from the previous week's revised average of 4,752,250.

"The latest jobless claims data are consistent with the downbeat message from labor market indicators at the start of the year," said Lydia Boussour, Lead U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.

She added, "While downside risks remain, broader vaccine distribution and increased fiscal support should lead to a marked improvement in labor market trends by the Spring and Summer."

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