The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose from a five-month low last week, but remained below a level associated with a strengthening labor market.
A separate report on regional business activity in the Philadelphia region showed surprising improvement.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 265,000 for the week ended March 12, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The prior week's claims were revised to show 1,000 fewer applications received than previously reported.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 268,000 in the latest week. A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing last week's claims data and no states had been estimated.