WEEKLY DROP: The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell by 12,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 377,000. It was the first drop in five weeks and down from an upwardly revised 389,000 the previous week.

THE TREND: The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose by 1,750 to 377,500. That's the highest in a month.

THE TAKEAWAY: The claims are consistent with a job market that is expanding slowly. When new claims dip to 375,000 a week, it typically suggests hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.