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The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell marginally last week, but continues to point to steadily improving labor market conditions. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 312,000 for the week ended June 21, the Labor Department said on Thursday. 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, rose 2,000 to 314,250 last week. With the labor market normalizing, there is probably little room for claims to drop much further. The declining claims suggest a recent streak of payroll job gains is likely to be sustained. A separate report showed U.S. consumer spending rose less than expected in May, likely held back by weak healthcare spending, which could prompt economists to temper their second-quarter growth estimates.
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