The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell to a seasonally adjusted 318,000 last week, down by a better-than-expected 13,000 from the previous week.

The total claims included 1,400 related to hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, bringing total job losses from the three storms to 603,600.

The four-week moving average, which is less volatile, fell by more than 4,700 to just over 329,000 claims.