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US Weekly Jobless Claims Rise as Nonfarm Payrolls Report Looms

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US Weekly Jobless Claims Rise as Nonfarm Payrolls Report Looms

US jobless claims rose more than expected last week, but the underlying trend continued to show broad recovery in the labour market leading up to the March nonfarm payrolls report.

US jobless claims increased by 16,000 to 326,000 last week, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The median estimate of economists called for jobless benefits to rise to 317,000 in the week ending March 29.

Despite the increase, jobless claims have been relatively stable in March. The four-week moving average for initial claims increased from 319,250 to 319,500, official data showed.

Weekly jobless claims capture the number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits. The reading is used to measure ongoing developments in the US labour market.

The Labor Department is scheduled to close out the week with a report on nonfarm payrolls. March data are expected to point to ongoing recovery in the labour market, which is regaining momentum after a long battle with inclement weather. The US economy added 200,000 jobs last month, following a gain of 175,000 in February, forecasts show. The unemployment rate is expected to drop from 6.7 percent to 6.6 percent.

Revised government estimates showed job growth had slowed to 84,000 in December and 129,000 in January, raising concern the US labour market was losing traction at the end of the fourth quarter.

A report on Wednesday, courtesy of the ADP Institute, said employers added 191,000 private payrolls in March, following a revised 178,000 gain the previous month.

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