WASHINGTON — Initial jobless claims dropped more then economists expected for the week ending Jan. 15, falling by 37,000 new filings to 404,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Continuing claims fell by 26,000 to 3.861 million, the third straight weekly drop. Economists expected 420,000 initial claims and 3.900 million continuing claims, according to the median estimate from Thomson Reuters.

“Despite some improvement, the labor markets remain relatively soft,” Steven Wood, chief economist at Insight Economics, said in a research note.

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