) -- Christmas came early for the U.S. labor market, with initial jobless claims falling again, beating analyst expectations.

Seasonally adjusted initial-claim figures fell by 28,000 to 452,000 for the week ending Dec. 19, down from the previous week's unrevised 480,000 figure. Analysts had expected 470,000 in new claims.

The four-week moving average for initial jobless claims also decreased, by 2,750 to 465,250 from the previous week's revised average.

The figure for individuals filing continuing jobless claims in the week ending Dec. 12 also fell, by 127,000 to 5,076,000.

The numbers would tend to indicate that the U.S. labor market might actually be on the road to recovery, after experiencing the worst recession since the 1930s.

-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York

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