New applications for U.S. unemployment benefits jumped by 13,000 to 282,000 in the seven days ended Dec. 5, the highest level in five months. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast initial claims to inch up to 270,000 from 269,000 in the prior week. The average of new claims over the past month, meanwhile, edged up by 1,500 to a seasonally adjusted 270,750, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week average smooths out sharp fluctuations in the more volatile weekly report and is seen as a more accurate predictor of labor-market trends.
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