WASHINGTON —Initial unemployment claims fell 23,000 to 298,000 in the Nov. 30 week, but that is the Thanksgiving holiday week.

The Labor Department claims analyst noted the difficulty in seasonally adjusting claims around a major holiday and suggested the latest reading be interpreted with caution because weekly readings are more volatile than normal.

Unadjusted claims posted a 54,507 decline for the latest week, and the adjustment added back only a portion of the total.

The 4-week average of 322,250 claims might better reflect underlying conditions. That is close to the August average of 329,000 — posted before reporting problems and holidays took the lead.

Initial claims usually rebound after a holiday, then settle back. There is no reason to think this pattern will not repeat this year.

Continuing unemployment claims were down 21,000 to 2.744 million in the Nov. 23 week. These have been on a downtrend since summer and suggest the larger picture is that the labor market is improving gradually.

Market News International is a real-time global news service for fixed-income and foreign exchange market professionals. See www.marketnews.com.

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