Applications For U.S. Unemployment Benefits Drop In Last Week

AP LogoWASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, as employers hold onto workers despite a recent slowdown in hiring because of global pressures weighing on the U.S. economy.

The Labor Department says weekly applications for jobless aid fell 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 263,000. The four-week average, a less volatile figure, has fallen 8.2 percent over the past year to 267,500.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. Recent lows had pointed to greater confidence among employers. Yet the recent decline in hiring points to increased caution as growth has slowed in China and stalled in Europe. The reduced pace of growth cut into demand for oil and U.S. exports, hitting job gains in

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