The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits climbed by 16,000 to 276,000 at the end of October to match the highest level in the past two months. Economists polled by the MarketWatch had expected claims to total 262,000 in the seven days running from Oct. 25 to Oct. 31. Despite the increase claims are still near the lowest level in 15 years. The average of new claims over the past month, meanwhile, rose by 3,500 to seasonally adjusted 262,750, 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 2.16 million people collected weekly unemployment checks in the seven days ended Oct. 24. These so-called continuing claims were 17,000 higher compared to the prior week.
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