FEWER SEEK BENEFIT: The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell sharply last week, to a seasonally adjusted 346,000 from 388,000. The drop nearly reversed three straight weeks of increases.
VOLATILE PATTERN: Applications have been volatile in the past two weeks largely because of the Easter holiday. The timing of the holiday changes from year to year. That makes it hard to adjust for school holidays and other changes.
HOPEFUL SIGN: The drop signals that the job market might be stronger than March's weak month of hiring suggested. Employers added only 88,000 jobs last month, down from an average of 220,000 in the previous four months.