U.S. initial jobless claims fell 27,000 to 341,000 in the latest week, the U.S. Labor Department announced Thursday, but economists caution that the data may have been skewed lower due to a northeast U.S. snowstorm, which may have delayed filings.

That's why economists emphasize the four-week moving average, which can smooth out anomalies caused by weather, strikes and other events. That average rose 1,500 to 352,500.