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Jobless Queue Lengthens; Fourth Quarter Growth Slows

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, but the underlying trend suggested the labor market continued to heal.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 348,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were revised to show 3,000 more applications received than previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast first-time applications for jobless benefits rising to 330,000 in the week ended Jan. 25.

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, edged up 750 to 333,000.

Gross domestic product grew at a 3.2 percent annual rate, the Commerce Department said, in line with expectations. While that was a slowdown from the third-quarter's brisk 4.1 percent pace, it was a far stronger performance than earlier anticipated and was welcome news in light of a 0.3 percentage point drag from October's partial government shutdown and a much smaller contribution to growth from a restocking by businesses.