The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits fell by 7,000 to 255,000 in the week ended Oct. 10, matching the lowest level since 1973. Economists polled by the MarketWatch had expected claims to total 270,000. The average of new claims over the past month, meanwhile, declined by 2,250 to seasonally adjusted 265,000, the Labor Department said. That's also the smallest amount since 1973. 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 2.16 million people collected weekly unemployment checks in the seven days ended Oct. 3. These so-called continuing claims were down 50,000 from the prior week.
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