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U.S. jobless claims rise; fourth-quarter productivity revised down

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week and nonfarm productivity contracted more sharply than previously thought in the fourth quarter.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased by 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 320,000 for the week ended Feb. 28, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected claims to fall to 295,000 last week.

In a second report, the department said productivity fell at a 2.2 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter, instead of the 1.8 percent pace it had reported last month.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)