The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits rose by 1,000 to 260,000 in the week ended Oct. 24, showing essentially no change in the level of layoffs ocurring throughout the economy. Economists polled by the MarketWatch had expected claims to total 265,000. The average of new claims over the past month, meanwhile, fell by 4,000 to seasonally adjusted 259,250, marking the lowest level since 1973, the Labor Department said Thursday. 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 2.14 million people collected weekly unemployment checks in the seven days ended Oct. 17. These so-called continuing claims were down 37,000 from the prior week.
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