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More file for jobless claims

FIRST-TIME claims for United States jobless benefits last week rose more than forecast, signaling companies stepped up the pace of firings at the start of the year.

Initial jobless claims jumped by 54,000 to 524,000 in the week that ended on January 10, from a revised 470,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said yesterday in Washington. The number of people collecting benefits fell from a 26-year high, Bloomberg News said.

The worst holiday sales season in at least 40 years and the lack of credit will probably prompt even more payroll cuts in coming weeks and months. President-elect Barack Obama, who takes office on Tuesday, has proposed a stimulus plan to save or create up to 4 million jobs.

"Increased layoffs will remain a weight on consumer spending," Tom Porcelli, an economist at Castlestone Management Ltd in New York, said before the report.


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