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The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 15,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 330,000, signaling fewer layoffs and steady job growth.
The Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average dropped 9,750 to 349,000.
A Labor spokesman said there was no indication that snow and freezing weather around much of the country caused the drop in applications.
Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They appear to have stabilized near pre-recession levels after a period of volatility around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. That suggests recent job gains will continue.
‘‘The underlying trend is encouraging and supports the view that job creation is picking up momentum,’’ said Jennifer Lee, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.