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Initial Jobless Claims Fell Last Week

December 19, 2002
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of Americans signing up for state unemployment benefits fell last week, but by less than expected, in a report from the Labor Department on Thursday that suggested a still-weak labor market.

The report said first-time jobless claims dropped by 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 433,000 for the week ended Dec. 14.

However, the four-week moving average of claims -- a more reliable indicator of job market conditions since it smoothes out weekly volatility -- rose by 12,750 to 400,750.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected jobless claims to fall to 408,000 from the 441,000 previously reported for the Dec. 7 week.

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