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Initial Claims Drop More Than Expected

Initial jobless claims for the latest week fell to 340K, which was below the consensus forecast of 355K.  It was also the third lowest reading of the entire recovery, indicating that the labor market continues to show signs of life.

With this week's low weekly claims reading, the four-week moving average also fell to 348.8K, which marks a new post-recession low.  In fact, the last time the four-week moving average was this low was back in early March 2008.

Looking at claims on a non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) basis, the weekly reading rose this week to 333.4K.  It is typical for claims to rise as February shifts to March, so this week's increase in the NSA level should not be concerning.  Going back to 2000, in fact, claims remain well below their average level of 390K for the current week.