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US jobless claims fall, point to firming labour market

[WASHINGTON] The number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits fell last week, suggesting a moderation in job growth in August was an aberration.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 275,000 for the week ended Sept 5, the Labour Department said on Thursday. It was the 27th straight week that claims remained below the 300,000 threshold, which is usually associated with a strengthening labour market.

Claims for the prior week were revised to show 1,000 fewer applications received than previously reported. Economists had forecast claims falling to 275,000 last week.

A Labour Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing the data and only claims for Hawaii had been estimated.

The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labour market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, ticked up 500 to 275,750 last week.

The economy added 173,000 jobs in August, the fewest in five months. Economists, however, dismissed the step-down from July's gain of 245,000 jobs as a technical distortion. A report on Wednesday showed job openings surged to a record high in July, suggesting solid labour demand in the near term.

Thursday's claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid rose 1,000 to 2.26 million in the week ended Aug 29.