Initial jobless claims fell 44,000 to 434,000 for the week ended Saturday, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
Economists had forecast the rate to rise to 430,000, Bloomberg reported.
The four-week moving average increased to 436,750 from 432,250, the highest since November.
The number of people continuing to collect jobless benefits rose by 5,000 in the week ended April 30 to 3.76 million, Labor said.
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