Initial Weekly Claims Shows Surprise Drop

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The number of Americans filing unemployment claims for the first time showed a surprise drop last week according to a labor department report released early Thursday.

The advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims fell by 21,000 to 434,000 in the week ended Oct. 23, from the previous week's upwardly revised estimate of 455,000. Analysts were expecting initial claims to rise by 6,000 to 458,000, according to consensus estimates from Briefing.com.

The number of people filing continuing claims -- those who have been receiving unemployment insurance for at least a week -- also came in lower than expected at 4.356 million for the week ended Oct. 16, a decrease of 122,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 4.478 million. Consensus estimates projected continuing claims to drop to 4.428 million.

The SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ( DIA) and the SPDR S&P 500 ETF ( SPY) were rising by 0.4% and 0.2 % respectively in premarket trading while the PowerShares QQQ ( QQQQ) was up 0.3%.

The 4-week moving average in initial claims, which smoothes the volatility in week-to-week reports, was 453,250, a decrease of 5,500 from the previous week's revised average of 458,750. The 4-week moving average in continuing claims was 4.447 million, a decrease of 38,500 from the preceding week's average of 4.485 million.

-- Written by Shanthi Venkataraman in New York.

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