A report released by the Labor Department on Thursday showed first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell by more than expected in the week ended March 16th.
The report said initial jobless claims dropped to 221,000, a decrease of 9,000 from the previous week's revised level of 230,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 225,000 from the 229,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average crept up to 225,000, an increase of 1,000 from the previous week's revised average of 224,000.
Continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, fell by 27,000 to 1.750 million in the week ended March 9th.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims still rose to 1,772,500, an increase of 6,000 from the previous week's revised average of 1,766,500.