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U.S. Jobless Claims Inch Up Less Than Expected To 745,000

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Ahead of Friday's more closely watched monthly employment report, the Labor Department released a report on Thursday showing a modest increase in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended February 27th.

The report said initial jobless claims inched up to 745,000, an increase of 9,000 from the previous week's revised level of 736,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to rise to 750,000 from the 730,000 originally reported for the previous week.

The uptick in jobless claims came after the drop seen in the previous week pulled claims down to their lowest level since the week ended November 28th.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average fell to 790,750, a decrease of 16,750 from the previous week's revised average of 807,500.

The report said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, also slid by 124,000 to 4.295 million in the week ended February 20th.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims dropped to 4.448 million, a decrease of 99,000 from the previous week's unrevised average of 4.547 million.

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

Economists currently expect employment to increase by 182,000 jobs in February after rising by 49,000 jobs in January. The unemployment rate is expected to hold at 6.3 percent.

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