Investing.com - The number of people who filed for unemployment assistance in the U.S. fell more than expected last week, remaining in territory usually associated with a firming labor market, official data showed on Thursday.
In a report, the U.S. Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending December 11 decreased by 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 271,000 from the previous week's total of 282,000. Analysts expected jobless claims to fall by 7,000 to 275,000 last week.
First-time jobless claims have held below the 300,000-level for 40 consecutive weeks, which is usually associated with a firming labor market.
Continuing jobless claims in the week ended December 4 dipped to 2.238 million from 2.245 million in the preceding week. Analysts had expected continuing claims to decline to 2.220 million.
The four-week moving average was 270,500, a decrease of 250 from the previous week's 270,750. The monthly average is seen as a more accurate gauge of labor trends because it reduces volatility in the week-to-week data.
EUR/USD was trading at 1.0841 from around 1.0836 ahead of the release of the data, GBP/USD was at 1.4918 from 1.4909 earlier, while USD/JPY was at 122.48 from 122.55 earlier.
The US dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was at 98.97, compared to 99.02 ahead of the report.
Meanwhile, U.S. stock futures pointed to a higher open. The Dow futures pointed to a gain of 38 points, or 0.23%, the S&P 500 futures indicated a rise 4 points, or 0.15%, while the Nasdaq 100 futures increased 18 points, or 0.38%.
Elsewhere, in the commodities market, gold futures traded at $1,061.20 a troy ounce, compared to $1,061.50 ahead of the data, while crude oil traded at $35.33 a barrel from $35.27 earlier.
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