WASHINGTONThe number of new applications for U.S. jobless benefits rose modestly last week and a gauge of the trend in claims fell, pointing to ongoing tightening in the labor market that could push the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 277,000 for the week ended Sept. 26, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
It was the 30th straight week that claims remained below the 300,000 threshold, which is usually associated with a strengthening labor market.
The four-week moving average of claims, a closely followed trend measure because it irons out week-to-week volatility, dropped 1,000 to 270,750, not far above a 15-year low.
"Filings at this level are incredibly low by historical standards, speaking to how tight labor markets are getting," said Stephen Stanley, an economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities.
The Labor Department said there were no special factors impacting last week's claims.
Claims for the prior week were unrevised. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 270,000 last week.
The labor market has been on solid footing this year despite a recent global stock market sell-off, which has boosted expectations the Fed could hike rates this year or in early 2016.
Investors appeared to largely shrug off Thursday's data, with the dollar trading marginally lower and U.S. stock futures pointing to gains when the market opens later in the morning.
The economy is forecast to have added 203,000 jobs in September, a pace that if held could push the jobless rate lower in the coming months.
Thursday's claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 53,000 to 2.19 million in the week ended Sept. 19.
(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Andrea Ricci)