The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits fell by 12,000 to 260,000 in week before Thanksgiving, keeping jobless claims near the lowest level in years. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected claims to total a seasonally adjusted 270,000 in the seven days running from Nov. 15 to Nov. 21. The average of new claims over the past month, meanwhile, was unchanged at a seasonally adjusted 271,000, the Labor Department said Wednesday. 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 2.21 million people collected weekly unemployment checks in the seven days ended Nov. 14. These so-called continuing claims were 34,000 higher compared to the prior week.
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