Jobless claims fall, jobs market slowly healing

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One step at a time.

(Reuters) - New claims for unemployment benefits in the United States fell more than expected last week, pointing to more healing in the nation's battered jobs market.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 367,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

Job growth has gained momentum in recent months and the unemployment rate dropped to a near three-year low of 8.5 percent in December.

Analysts will be watching Friday's report on January payrolls for insight into what it will mean for policy after the Federal Reserve last week left the door open to additional economic stimulus.

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