First-time unemployment claims last week fell to 340,000, a decrease of 23,000 from the previous week.

Analysts polled by expected, on average, 350,000, while analysts polled by Action Economics via FactSet expected, on average, 340,000.

For the seven days ended May 11, the number of Americans applying for first-time jobless benefits rose to 363,000, far exceeding analysts' expectations. The four-week moving average was 339,500, a decrease of 500 from the previous week's revised average of 340,000.

Economists emphasize the more-telling four-week moving average, as it smoothes out anomalies such as strikes, holidays and other one-time events.