WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fewer people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, as jobless claims remain at relatively low levels that point toward stronger economic growth.<br />
Weekly applications for unemployment aid fell 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 289,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The prior week's was revised up slightly to 303,000.<br />
The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell 4,000 to 293,500. That's the lowest average since February 2006, almost two years before the Great Recession began at the end of 2007.
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.