updated 10/12/2006 9:32:13 AM ET 2006-10-12T13:32:13

First-time claims for U.S. jobless benefits inched up 4,000 to 308,000 last week, nearly matching expectations, Labor Department data showed on Thursday.

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However, new claims for state unemployment insurance benefits filed by Saturday may not have captured about 15,000 workers who went on strike on Oct. 5 at Goodyear tire plants in the United States and Canada.

The median estimate from Wall Street analysts surveyed by Reuters had put first-time claims at 310,000.

Jobless claims were revised up to 304,000 from the preliminary 302,000 for the week ended Sept. 30, the Department said.

The four-week moving average of new claims, which irons out volatile weekly data to provide a better picture of underlying labor market trends, eased 750 last week to 313,250.

The number of people who continued to file for jobless benefits after drawing an initial claim of aid rose by 5,000 to 2.445 million in the week ended Sept. 30, the Labor Department said.

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