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By Kevin Kastner, Sara Haire and Holly Stokes
     WASHINGTON (MNI) - The following are the key points from the weekly 
unemployment insurance claims data for the December 16 week released by 
the Labor Department Thursday: 
     - The initial claims data showed a 20,000 increase to 245,000 in 
the December 16 employment survey week, above the 235,000 level expected 
and ahead of recent levels. 
     - Claims are usually volatile during the holidays, so it is better 
to watch the four-week moving average. That measure rose this week by 
1,250 to 236,000. The average could rise further next week as the 
238,000 level in November 25 week rolls out. 
     - The level of initial claims is only up 5,000 from the 240,000 
level in the November 18 employment survey week, so its predictive 
power for December payrolls is rather small.  
     - Continuing claims rose by 43,000 to 1.932m in the December 9 
week. 
     - Claims filings in the Virgin Islands are still impacted by 
the after-effects of the hurricanes, as they were estimated again. 
Maine filings were also estimated. 
     ** MNI Washington Bureau: 202-371-2121 ** 
 
[TOPICS: MAUDS$,M$U$$$,MAUDR$]