Investing.com - The number of people who filed for unemployment assistance in the U.S. last week rose more than expected but continued to remain in territory 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 January 21 increased by 22,000 to a seasonally adjusted 259,000 from the previous week's total of 237,000 which was revised from an initial reading of 234,000.
Analysts had expected jobless claims to rise by 13,000 from the original reading to 247,000 last week.
First-time jobless claims below the 300,000-level are usually associated with a firming labor market.
Meanwhile, continuing jobless claims in the week ended January 14 unexpectedly rose to 2.100 million from 2.059 million in the preceding week, which was revised from 2.046 million.
Analysts had expected continuing claims to decrease to 2.040 million.
The four-week moving average was 245,500, a 2,000 decrease from the previous week's 247,500 (initially 246,750). This is the lowest level for this average since November 3, 1973 when it was 244,000.
The monthly average is seen as a more accurate gauge of labor trends because it reduces volatility in the week-to-week data.
Immediately after the report, EUR/USD was trading at 1.0698 compared to 1.0700 ahead of the release, GBP/USD was at 1.2573 from 1.2565 earlier, while USD/JPY traded at 114.29 compared to 114.34 before the publication.
The US dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was at 100.43, compared to 100.42 ahead of the report.
Meanwhile, U.S. stock futures pointed to a flat open. The Dow futures edged forward 15 points, or 0.07%, the S&P 500 futures inched up less than a point, or 0.01%, while the Nasdaq 100 futures advanced 8 points, or 0.15%.
Elsewhere, in the commodities market, gold futures traded at $1,188.35 a troy ounce, compared to $1,187.35 ahead of the data, while U.S. crude oil traded at $53.08 a barrel from $53.11 earlier.
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