Initial jobless claims in the U.S. rose to 421,000 in the week ended April 28, the highest level recorded since the week of March 23, 1996.

The number of jobless claims in the latest week rose from a revised level of 412,000 the previous week.

The average number of jobless claims for the four weeks ended April 28 rose to 404,500 from a revised level of 395,250 for the comparable prior period. The four-week average marked the highest level of jobless claims since Oct. 10, 1992.

recently took a

deeper look at what Friday's

employment report

will mean for the markets. The anticipation over the jobs report is building. If the numbers indicate that staffing levels are steady, that could kill off recession bugs and add renewed confidence to the fledgling market rally.