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Business

US jobless claims tumble

In a sign of a strong job market, the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits has fallen. The news of a solid labor market comes even though economic growth in the country has stalled.

Applications for US unemployment benefits unexpectedly dropped 20,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 268,000, the US Labor Department said on Thursday.

The four-week average, a more reliable measure of labor market trends, also plunged 14,750 to 285,500 last week.

The number of jobless claims is a good gauge of layoffs - a low average indicates employers are holding onto their workers. Generally, applications below 300,000 are consistent with solid monthly gains.

The stronger dollar has hurt US factories exporting overseas, since their products have surged in price around the world, as measured in other currencies. Falling oil prices have also cut into the production of pipelines, primary metals and machinery.

Despite a noticeable

economic slowdown

in recent months, layoffs have stayed

close to historic lows

.

The government's employment report released on Friday is expected to show employers added 248,000 jobs in March, according to FactSet.

el/nz (AP, Reuters)

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