) -- First-time jobless claims jumped more than Wall Street expected last week, according to a government report, in yet another indication of the nation's slow and fragile job market recovery.

Initial claims ticked higher for the second week in a row, this time by 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 480,000 last week, according to the Labor Department. The sum outpaced consensus expectations for a decline to 465,000 from the pre-revised 474,000 total reported last week.

Still, the four-week moving average, which tends to smooth out wild week-to-week fluctuations, declined for the fifteenth straight week and to their lowest point since September 2008, falling by 5,250 to 467,500.

The number of those continuing to collect unemployment benefits also climbed past forecasts to 5.186 million during the week ending Dec. 5 from an upwardly revised 5.181 million mark.

The unexpected jump in initial jobless claims comes a day after central bank policymakers wrapped up a two-day meeting on Wednesday. The

Federal Reserve's

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Federal Open Market Committee said in its post-meeting statement that it plans to keep its key rate "exceptionally low" for an "extended period," while also noting that deterioration in the jobs market is "abating."

Still, many realize that any economic recovery needs job creation for it to fully take hold. The Fed reiterated that weakness in the labor market, among other things, continues to restrain the nation's household spending, making activity that much more cautious. The House of Representatives also passed a $155 billion jobs creation bill on Wednesday with a vote of 217 to 212.

The dollar was strengthening after the news this morning, as the Dollar Index tracked higher by 1%. Stocks opened broadly lower in the face of this and other downbeat premarket news. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was recently off by 97.5 points, or 0.9%, to 10,343.63.


Written by Sung Moss in New York