There were 377,000 first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week, down 12,000 from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration reports.
But in yet another mixed signal about how the economy's doing, that welcome dip is tempered by the fact that the "4-week moving average was 377,750, an increase of 1,750 from the previous week's revised average of 376,000." Economists watch that average because it offers a slightly larger look at the trend.
Also, the agency revised up the previous week's number of claims — from the initial estimate of 383,000 to 389,000.
Bloomberg News says the report signals "limited progress in the labor market after a two-month slowdown in hiring."
As we mentioned earlier, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke this morning delivers the central bank's latest economic outlook during testimony before Congress.