The Labor Department just published its latest weekly tally of initial unemployment claims.

Claims fell to 340,000 from 350,000 a week ago. However this was a hair higher than the  338,000 expected by economists.

The 4-week moving average climbed by 8,000 to 356,250.

"Following swings caused by a change in computer systems in California, claims are settling into a higher range, indicating the 16-day partial federal shutdown this month prompted some employers to dismiss staff," reported Bloomberg's Lorraine Woellert.

"The coming several weeks should point to a more conclusive direction in the claims data, and we suspect that further improvement is likely as claims averaged roughly 330K before data collection issues began impacting the figures," said TD Securities' Gennadiy Goldberg. "This should continue to suggest that the underlying tone on the firing side of the labor market equation remains better, even as companies may be delaying new hires amid the ongoing uncertainty over the federal budget."

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