CLAIMS RISE: Weekly applications for U.S. unemployment benefits jumped 46,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 388,000, the highest in four months after falling sharply the previous week.
THE BACK STORY: A Labor Department spokesman said Thursday the last two week's figures were distorted by seasonal adjustments the department makes.
MORE STABLE GAUGE: The four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, rose slightly to 365,500, a level consistent with modest hiring. Applications are a proxy for layoffs. When they consistently fall below 375,000, it suggests hiring is healthy enough to lower the unemployment rate.