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The number of Americans who filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week dropped back down to a near 44-year low, in the latest sign of strength in the labour market.

Weekly jobless claims fell last week to 234,000, from 259,000 in the previous week, the labour department reported. Wall Street had expected a slimmer fall to 250,000. In February, claims had fallen as low as 227,000.

The data underscore the tightening jobs market, and come after a report released on Wednesday showed private sector job growth topped expectations in March. The key monthly jobs report issued by the US government is due on Friday.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.

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