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The numbers: Initial jobless benefit claims rose by 17,000 to 240,000 in the week ended November 19, the U.S. Labor Department said Wednesday.  

Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had estimated new claims would rise 3,000 from last week’s initial estimate of 225,000.

The level of claims is the highest since mid-August.

Key details: The number of people already collecting jobless benefits rose by 48,000 to 1.55 million.

On an unadjusted basis, claims rose 47,909 to 248,185.

Big picture: Claims have been bouncing around at low levels, reflecting the strong U.S. labor market. This week’s jump could reflect layoffs that have been reported in recent weeks.

On the other hand, some economists were expecting a technical bounce this week given the churn typical around major holidays.

Looking ahead:  “We are increasingly inclined to think that the trend in claims is now rising gently, as firms come under increasing pressure from the Fed’s aggressive tightening,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Economics. 

Market reaction: Stocks
DJIA,
+0.30%

SPX,
+0.42%

were set to open higher on Wednesday. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note
TMUBMUSD10Y,
3.717%

inched up to 3.78%.


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