New claims for US unemployment insurance fell last week for the fifth week in a row, according to government figures published Wednesday.
Initial jobless claims, a sign of the pace of layoffs, totaled 280,000 in the week ending December 20, down 9,000 from the previous week, according to US Department of Labor data.
Analysts had projected 290,000 claims.
The result marked the 14th week in the last 15 in which weekly claims have stood below 300,000. The current count is also the lowest since the first week of November.
The four-week moving average, which smooths out week-over-week volatility, fell by 8,500 to 290,250.
Briefing.com analyst Patrick O'Hare called the data "another encouraging glimpse of labor trends." He said the data likely portend another solid jobs report when the Department of Labor releases figures for December report in early January.
On Tuesday, the Commerce Department said that third-quarter US gross domestic product came in at a strong 5.0 percent, surpassing expectations.