Economists polled by Reuters had expected first-time applications to fall to 345,000 last week. A Labor Department analyst said no states had been estimated and there was nothing unusual in the state-level data. Last week's data included the Memorial Day holiday and claims typically fall around this time of the year.
Last week's data has no bearing on Friday's employment report for May as it falls outside the survey period. Employers are forecast to have added 170,000 jobs to their payrolls last month, slightly up from April's 165,000 count, according to a Reuters survey. The unemployment rate is seen holding at an almost 4-1/2 year low of 7.5 percent.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said last month a decision to start tapering the $85 billion in bonds the U.S. central bank is buying each month could come at one of its "next few meetings" if the economy appeared set to maintain momentum.
The claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid fell 52,000 to 2.95 million in the week ended May 25. The four-week average for the so-called continuing claims was the lowest since May 2008.
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