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Jobless claims jump unexpectedly

Week-over-week rise highest since mid-January

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The number of Americans filing first claims for unemployment benefits rose by the most week-over-week in 10 weeks, and they are just below the total average for 2013. 

Initial claims for unemployment benefits jumped 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 326,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. Claims for the week ended March 22 were revised to show 1,000 fewer applications received than previously reported.

This weekly increase was not expected by forecasters, who expected first-time applications for jobless benefits rising to 317,000 for the week ended March 29.

The four-week moving average for new claims, considered a better measure of underlying labor market conditions as it irons out week-to-week volatility, nudged up 250 to 319,500. This indicates a firmer bias in the labor market.

This follows ADP's miss on Wednesday and the ISM reports' internal jobs indices coming in below expectations.

Continuing claims, which are reported with a one-week lag, also rose, up 22,000 in the March 22 week to 2.836 million.

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