Initial applications for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, but remained low, the Labor Department said Wednesday.
Claims for jobless benefits increased by 17,000 from the previous week to 298,000. Economists had expected claims to rise to 289,000 for the week ended Dec. 27, according to FactSet.
Claims tend to swing erratically around the holidays because seasonal adjustments prove more difficult.
Most signs lately point to an improving economy. In the third quarter, the U.S. recorded its strongest growth in more than a decade.
Even with the rise in claims last week, applications hovered near early-2006 levels.
The four-week moving average for jobless claims, which smooths out some of the volatility in the weekly numbers, rose by 250 to 290,500.