The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, but the underlying trend suggested no shift in labor market conditions.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 348,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were revised to show 2,000 fewer applications received than previously reported.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast first-time applications for jobless benefits slipping to 335,000 in the week ended Feb. 22, which included the Presidents Day holiday. While last week's increase pushed them to the upper end of their range so far this year, it probably does not signal labor market weakness as claims tend to be volatile around federal holidays.
In other economic data, orders for long-lasting manufactured goods such as toasters and refrigerators, rose last month as did a gauge of business spending plans, but that will probably not change views that factory activity is slowing.
The Commerce Department said on Thursday durable goods orders excluding transportation rose 1.1 percent, the largest increase since May, after falling 1.9 percent in December. Economists polled by Reuters had expected this category to fall 0.3 percent after a previously reported 1.3 percent decline in December.