Applications for US jobless benefits fall to 3-month low

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WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of people seeking unemployment aid fell last week to the lowest level since November, evidence that stock market turmoil and slow growth overseas haven't caused U.S. businesses to cut jobs.

The Labor Department says weekly applications for jobless benefits fell 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 262,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, dropped 8,000 to 273,250.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs, so the low reading points to job market health. A rise in applications last month fueled concerns about greater layoffs. Yet those job cuts likely occurred among temporary employees hired over the winter holidays, and have now faded.

Recent reports have shown that consumer spending and manufacturing grew last month, suggesting the economy is still growing despite recession worries on Wall Street.