The U.S. Department of Labor said today in Washington that the initial jobless claims for the week ending March 17 fell by 5 thousand to 348 thousand, down from the prior revised estimate of 353 thousand and 350 thousand expected.

Continuing claims for the week ending March 10 fell to 3,352 thousand from a revised 3,361 thousand, beating 3,380 thousand expected as well. The 4-week moving average, a less volatile gauge, fell by 1.250 thousand to 353 thousand last week.