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US Jobless Claims Fell by 15,000 Last Week

First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell by 15,000 last week, the government said on Thursday in a report showing some deterioration in the labor market amid fallout from the housing sector troubles.

New applications for state unemployment insurance benefits fell to a seasonally adjusted 338,000 in the week ended Dec. 1, from a slight upwardly revised 353,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said.

The level was slightly lower than the 340,000 economists had forecast for the week following the Thanksgiving holiday, but still in a range that pointed to a weakening labor market.

The four-week moving average of new claims, considered a more reliable indicator of the job market's health, rose for the second straight week, climbing to 340,250 in the week ended Dec. 1 from 335,500 the week before.

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