Seasonally adjusted initial claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell to 206,000 in the week that ended Dec. 8 from the previous week's revised level of 233,000, the U.S. Labor Department reported.
The Econoday consensus estimate was 228,000.
The four-week moving average fell to 224,750 from 228,500.
The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate moved 0.1 percentage point higher to 1.2% in the week that ended Dec. 1. Insured unemployment during the week rose to 1,661,000 from 1,636,000.