The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits rose by 10,000 to 277,000 in the week ended Sept. 26, but initial claims remain extremely low in a sign of steady improvement of the labor market. Economists polled by the MarketWatch had expected claims to total 270,000. The average of new claims over the past month, meanwhile, fell by 1,000 to seasonally adjusted 270,500, the Labor Department said. The monthly average smooths out sharp fluctuations in the more volatile weekly report and is seen as a more accurate predictor of labor-market trends. Some 2.19 million people were already collecting weekly unemployment benefits, known as continuing claims, in the seven days ended Sept. 19. That was down 53,000 from the prior week and marked the lowest level since November 2000.
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