Weekly Jobless Claims Higher Than Expected

New claims for U.S. unemployment benefits rose slightly last week on a burst of jobless applications related to Hurricane Wilma, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

First-time claims for state unemployment benefits rose 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 326,000 in the week ended Nov. 5. Wall Street economists had expected 320,000 initial claims after a revised 324,000 the prior week.

There were about 15,000 new jobless claims related to hurricanes Katrina and Rita last week, bringing those U.S. Gulf Coast storms' cumulative unadjusted impact to 535,000 claims, a Labor Department analyst said.

Hurricane Wilma, whist week from 350,500 the prior week.

Continued claims, which show the number of people seeking benefits after receiving an initial week of assistance, rose by 23,000 to 2.82 million in the week ended Oct. 29, the latest period for which data is available.