Investing.com - The number of people who filed for unemployment assistance in the U.S. unexpectedly increased last week, although they remained at levels considered to be in line with a firming labor market, official data showed on Thursday.
In a report, the U.S. Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending January 6 increased by 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 261,000 from the previous week’s total of 250,000.
Analysts had expected jobless claims to drop to 246,000 last week.
First-time jobless claims below the 300,000-level are usually associated with a firming labor market.
Meanwhile, continuing jobless claims in the week ended December 30 dropped to 1.867 million from 1.902 million in the preceding week which was revised down from an initial reading of 1.914 million.
Analysts had expected continuing claims to increase to 1.915 million.
The four-week moving average was 250,750, a gain of 9,000 from the previous week's reading of 241,750.
The monthly average is seen as a more accurate gauge of labor trends because it reduces volatility in the week-to-week data.
After the report, which was published simultaneously with the producer price index, EUR/USD was trading at 1.2032 from around 1.2015 ahead of the release of the data, GBP/USD was at 1.3506 from 1.3492 earlier, while USD/JPY changed hands at 111.41 compared to 111.36 previously.
The US dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, traded at 91.73 compared to 91.87 ahead of the release.
Meanwhile, U.S. stock futures pointed to a higher open. The Dow futures rose 34 points, or 0.13%, the S&P 500 futures gained 4 points, or 0.15%, while the Nasdaq 100 futures advanced 12 points, or 0.17%.
Elsewhere, in the commodities market, gold futures traded at $1,322.40 a troy ounce, compared to $1,320.90 ahead of the data, while crude oil was at $63.87 a barrel, compared to $63.84 before the release.
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