The number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefit claims fell last week, signaling a pickup in the US labour market recovery, improving the outlook for the world's biggest economy.
US jobless claims fell 23,000 to 340,000 last week, the Labour Department said in a report on Thursday.
Analysts had expected jobless claims to drop to 345,000 last week.
The latest data signals that the US labour market continues to make progress, supporting comments from Federal Reserve officials who this week stressed that the job market has improved in recent months.
Despite the improvement in the US job market in recent times, the Fed is likely to play a waiting game before deciding to reduce stimulus as officials see if the gain in job growth can be sustained over the coming months.
The US economy added 165,000 jobs last month, up from the 138,000 in March 2013.
However, officials reckon that unless the economy starts creating 200,000 jobs per month for at least another six months, the labour market cannot be termed as substantially recovered.
Manufacturing conditions remain sluggish while the mammoth government spending cuts may also limit employment growth over the coming months.
At the same time, robust consumer spending and a much healthier housing market is supporting job conditions.