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New claims for unemployment in regular state programs fell to 787,000 last week. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had been expecting 875,000 for the week ended October 17.

The total showed a drop of 55,000 from the revised figure of 842,000 for the prior week.

The weekly figure was the lowest total since October 3 and the second-lowest mark since March 14.

As usual, interpreting the figures was made more difficult by snarls in the data (and the usual problem that none of these data series cover exactly the same period.) This week California resumed reporting after a pause to reduce a backlog in its system. The new figures from the state contributed to the improved total.

Continuing claims–the total number of Americans collecting regular state unemployment benefits–fell by 1.02 million to 8.37 million in the week ended October 10. That was offset to a degree by an increase in the number of workers in the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, a federal effort that provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits to workers who have exhausted their regular state benefits. That figure rose by 510,000 to 3.3 million in the week ended October 3.

In separate reports today sales of previously owned U.S. homes rose more than expected in September to the highest level in 14 years. But U.S. consumer confidence fell to a seven-week low.