Initial jobless claims filed in the week ended March 29 were 326,000, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, up from 310,000 in the previous week and above the consensus Wall Street forecast of 319,000.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance filed in the week ended March 22 were 2.836 million, up from a downwardly-revised 2.814 million the week before but below the consensus forecast of 2.843 million.

“The key question now is whether the run of relatively low numbers marks the new trend or was just a temporary diversion,” says Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

“We are inclined to think that the trend probably is falling, but quite slowly. Either way, expect volatility over the next few weeks as a result of the shifting timing of the Easter holiday from year to year, which causes problems for the seasonal adjustment process. The real trend will be clearer next month.”

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