Jobless claims unexpectedly fell last week, according to data from the Labor Department Thursday.
New filings for unemployment benefits fell by 4,000 to 218,000.
Economists had expected a rise to 225,000.
The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better indicator of job market strength because it evens out week-to-week volatility, also fell.
Continuing claims for state unemployment benefits dropped to 1.7 million, the lowest since December 1973.