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U.S. jobless claims rise more than expected

Free pens and resume building pamphlets are displayed during the Job Hunter's Boot Camp at College of San Mateo on June 7, 2011 in San Mateo, California.

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The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week, suggesting little improvement in the labor market this month after employment stumbled in May.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits climbed 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 429,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Economists had expected claims to come in at 415,000.

The report covers the survey period for the government's closely watched data on nonfarm payrolls for June.

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Claims increased 15,000 between the May and June survey periods, implying another soft month for jobs in June after a modest 54,000 increase in payrolls in May.

"Again no quick rebound in employment. We're still in the soft patch that we have had for a couple of months now," said Sean Incremona, an economist at 4CAST in New York.

U.S. stock index futures extended losses on the report, while prices for Treasury debt advanced. The dollar briefly trimmed gains versus the euro and yen.

A Labor Department official said technical problems had resulted in claims for six states being estimated last week.

The claims data is the latest in a series of economic reports to underscore the weakness in the economy, which has persisted through the second quarter.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday acknowledged the slowdown, but said it should largely be temporary. Although it cut its growth forecasts and downgraded its view of the labor market, it gave no indication of further monetary support.

The U.S. central bank confirmed it was winding up its $600-billion (U.S.) bond-buying program at the end of June.

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"Over the course of the next few weeks and few months we will definitely be able to pin this down, but our base case is that we will crawl out of this and chug along with a moderate recovery," said Mr. Incremona.

The four-week moving average of new jobless claims, considered a better gauge of labor market trends, was unchanged at 426,250.

Initial claims have now been above the 400,000 mark for 11 weeks in a row. Analysts normally associate that level with a stable labor market.

The number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid was little changed at 3.70 million in the week ended June 11.

Economists had expected so-called continuing claims to nudge down to 3.67 million from a previously reported 3.68 million.

The number of people on emergency unemployment benefits rose 5,728 to 3.30 million in the week ended June 4, the latest week for which data is available. A total of 7.54 million people were claiming unemployment benefits during that period under all programs.

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