Seasonally adjusted initial claims for U.S. unemployment benefits for the week ended Dec. 14 fell less than expected to 234,000 from the previous week's reading of 252,000, the U.S. Labor Department reported.
The consensus estimate of economists polled by Econoday was for jobless claims to fall to 221,000.
The four-week moving average increased to 225,500 from 224,000 in the previous week.
In the week ended Dec. 7, insured unemployment rose to 1,722,000 from the upwardly revised level of 1,671,000 in the prior week. The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate, which measures the proportion of the labor force receiving unemployment benefits, was unchanged at 1.2%.