New claims for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, a government report showed on Thursday, but the underlying trend continued to point to improving labor market conditions.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 381,000, the Labor Department said. The prior week's claims data was revised up to 366,000 from the previously reported 364,000.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 375,000. A Labor Department official said that because of a public holiday on Monday, claims from seven states - including California and Virginia - had been estimated.
The four-week moving average - a better measure of trends - fell 5,750 to 375,000, the lowest level since June 2008.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)