The four-week moving average was 383,750, an increase of 11,750 from the prior week's 372,000. Continuing claims for the week ended Nov. 3 increased 171,000 to 3.334 million from the preceding week's upwardly revised level of 3.163 million. Economists were forecasting continuing claims of 3.21 million. "The spike in claims was clearly due to hurricane-related job losses," said Jim O'Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. "Based on previous hurricanes, claims will probably remain elevated for at least a few weeks before subsiding again -- the implied weakening should not be extrapolated. Unfortunately, we don't know the precise hurricane impact, so the information value of the data for gauging the underlying trend will be limited for the next few weeks." The Philadelphia Fed's general business conditions index registered a decline to -10.7 in November from 5.7 in October, which was worse that the predicted decline to 2. The Empire State Manufacturing Survey improved to -5.2 in November from -6.2 the prior month and came in better than the expected fall to -6.7. Like the New York Fed survey, the Philly Fed report alluded to disruptions from Hurricane Sandy; but, RDQ Economics said Sandy was not the entire story. "The six-month outlook in this Philly Fed report shows softer general business conditions, slower growth in employment, and a decline in capital spending," the firm said. "Though it is still early days for the November regional manufacturing indicators, this report suggests that following two months of improvement the national ISM manufacturing survey may indicate weaker manufacturing conditions for November." Meantime, Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak, suggested that the stark contrast between Empire State and Philly Fed reads could be explained by the fact that respondents marginally further South "geared their answers with greater pessimism on account of the proximity of the storm." The October consumer price index increased 0.1%, as expected; the core CPI rose 0.2%, more than the estimated 0.1% increase. The FTSE 100 in London finished down 0.77%, while the DAX in Germany was off 0.82% on Thursday as U.K. retail sales declined more than expected in October and Eurostat said Thursday that the eurozone economy shrank by 0.1% between July and September, after contracting by 0.2% in the preceding three months.