U.S. claims for jobless benefits took a surprisingly sharp upward turn last week, rising by 20,000 to 362,000. The level is still considered within a range that indicates a slow overall hiring trend. "Looking through the weekly volatility, a stable level of claims as of late is consistent with the familiar, moderate improvement in the labor market," commented Yelena Shulyatyeva, an economist at BNP Paribas.

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