There were 409,000 first-time claims for jobless benefits last week, 18,000 more than the week before, the Employment and Training Administration just reported.
Though the number of claims rose, the increase was "slightly less than expected," The Wall Street Journal writes.
It's also worth noting that the "4-week moving average" of claims, ETA says, "was 410,750, a decrease of 3,500 from the previous week's revised average of 414,250."
This week's big news on employment is due tomorrow, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us about December's payroll employment and jobless rate figures. That news is due at 8:30 a.m. ET Friday.