NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Initial claims for jobless benefits dipped slightly last week, the government reported Thursday, but the closely-watched measure of the employment market came in bit more than Wall Street expected.
The number of people filing for first-time claims last week was 344,000, down from the revised 347,000 reading on initial filings the previous week. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com forecast that 335,000 filed for initial benefits last week.
The four-week moving average of filings, which smoothes weekly fluctuations to provide a better picture of underlying trends, advanced by 1,500 to 335,500. It hit its lowest level since September 2000 the previous week.
The strength of the employment market is one of the key factors investors are weighing when trying to judge if and when the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates.
The stronger employment outlook seen in the last two monthly jobs reports helped raise expectations that the Fed would act at its June meeting to raise rates rather than waiting for August or September, as had been previously expected. The monthly jobs report for May is scheduled to be released Friday, June 4.
Thursday's jobless claims being so close to the forecast did little to dissuade investors of that outlook. The prices and yield of the 10-year bond was virtually unchanged after the report.
Reuters contributed to this report