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A report released by the Labor Department on Thursday showed a modest drop in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended December 26th.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims edged down to 787,000, a decrease of 19,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 806,000.

The dip surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to rise to 833,000 from the 803,000 originally reported for the previous month.

Meanwhile, the report said the less volatile four-week moving average climbed to 836,750, an increase of 17,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 819,000.


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