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The number of U.S. workers applying for state unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week -- the largest increase in nine weeks and a sign of slower job growth that could ease concerns of inflation-wary Federal Reserve policymakers.

First-time jobless claims rose by 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 315,000 in the week ended Oct. 18, the second consecutive weekly rise, the Labor Department said. Claims increased by a revised 3,000 in the previous week to 307,000, initially reported as a gain of 2,000 to 306,000. Meanwhile, the four-week average for jobless claims rose last week to 308,750 from 306,500 the previous week, the Labor Department reported.

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