US jobless claims fall more than expected
New claims for US unemployment benefits fell more than expected in late January, official data showed on Thursday on the eve of the government's key monthly jobs report.
The Labor Department said initial jobless claims fell to a seasonally adjusted 415,000 in the week ending January 29, down nine per cent from the prior week's revised 457,000.
The drop in claims was far steeper than the average forecast of 425,000 for the final week of January.
The weekly jobless claims numbers have trended lower for five months, suggesting the troubled labor market is gaining traction.
The four-week moving average of new claims, which helps to smooth week-to-week volatility, rose by 1,000 last week to 430,500.
Still, the weekly report offered some hope of improvement amid high unemployment expected to weigh on the economy's struggle to fully recover from recession.
Friday's Labor Department data is expected to show the unemployment rate in January ticked up to 9.5 per cent from 9.4 per cent in December.
Analysts forecast 148,000 new jobs were added last month, up from 103,000 in December.
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