APPLICATIONS FALL: The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell by 3,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 382,000, the Labor Department said.
UPWARD TREND: The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose for the fifth straight week to 377,750. That's the highest level in nearly three months.
OUTLOOK: When applications consistently fall below 375,000, it typically suggests hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate. The upward trend suggests hiring remains weak.