The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits hit a three-month low last week, suggesting some strength in a labor market that has been hobbled by severe weather.
Other data on Thursday showed a second straight monthly decline in factory orders in January, likely because unusually cold and snowy weather disrupted activity.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits tumbled 26,000 to a seasonally adjusted 323,000, their lowest level since the end of November, the Labor Department said.
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“Initial claims returned to a more normal level, consistent with healthy labor market conditions,” said Yelena Shulyatyeva, an economist at BNP Paribas in New York.