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The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, but will probably do little to change views that the labor market was strengthening. The Labor Department said on Thursday initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 311,000 for the week ended Aug. 9. A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing the state level data. The four-week average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose 2,000 to 295,750, still pointing to firming job market conditions.

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