Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits jumped last week from an almost three-month low, showing the challenge in adjusting the data amid year-end holidays. Jobless claims surged by 68,000 to a two-month high of 368,000 in the period ended Dec. 7, Labor Department data showed today. That total topped the highest forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists. In contrast, the 300,000 applications filed in the prior week, which included Thanksgiving, were the fewest since Sept. 7. The data reflect seasonal adjustment volatility around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, a Labor Department spokesman said as the figures were released. A report last week showed the unemployment rate fell to a five-year low and companies added more workers than forecast, pointing to further labor-market progress. The median forecast of 47 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 320,000 claims. Estimates ranged from 300,000 to 351,000 after a previously reported 298,000 in the prior week.
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