Weekly jobless claims rise by 14,000, to 344,000

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The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, but the underlying trend continued to point to improving labor market conditions.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 344,000 for the week ended April 26, the Labor Department said on Thursday. That was the highest level since February.

Claims for the week ended April 19 were revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast first-time applications for jobless benefits falling to 319,000.

Claims are volatile around this time of the year because the timing of the Easter and Passover holidays and school spring breaks makes it difficult to adjust for seasonal fluctuations.

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