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Jobless Claims in U.S. Unexpectedly Fall to a Six-Week Low

The number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits declined to a six-week low, showing further improvement in the labor market. First-time jobless claims unexpectedly fell by 7,000 to 340,000 in the week ended March 2, the lowest since the period ended Jan. 19, according to data today from the Labor Department in Washington. The median forecast of 50 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an increase to 355,000. The four-week average dropped to a five-year low. Companies are easing up on dismissals as purchases of equipment climb and households maintain spending in the face of higher payroll taxes. Further declines in firings are a first step toward bigger employment and wage gains, and a report tomorrow may show payrolls picked up in February. “Every indication we have is that the labor market is beginning to pick up steam,” said Drew Matus, deputy U.S. chief economist at UBS Securities LLC in Stamford, Connecticut, who correctly projected the drop in claims. “It’

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