BUSINESS BRIEFING

Times Wire Reports

The number of Americans filing claims for jobless benefits fell more than economists predicted, a sign that some employers have stopped paring staff as the recession eases.

Applications dropped by 38,000, to 550,000, in the week that ended Saturday, figures from the Labor Department showed. It was the fifth straight time claims were under 600,000 after being above that level since January.

The total number of people collecting unemployment insurance rose.

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