In this Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, file photo, retired U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Duane Stubbs, right, of Morrow, Ga., shakes hands with retired U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Leland Smith, CEO of SolidHires, during a job fair for veterans at the VFW Post 2681, in Marietta, Ga. The Labor Department reports on the number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits last week on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
In this Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, file photo, retired U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Duane Stubbs, right, of Morrow, Ga., shakes hands with retired U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Leland Smith, CEO of SolidHires, during a job fair for veterans at the VFW Post 2681, in Marietta, Ga. The Labor Department reports on the number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits last week on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
In this Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, file photo, retired U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Duane Stubbs, right, of Morrow, Ga., shakes hands with retired U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Leland Smith, CEO of SolidHires, during a job fair for veterans at the VFW Post 2681, in Marietta, Ga. The Labor Department reports on the number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits last week on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

(Reuters) – The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment aid unexpectedly fell last week, but continued weakness in business spending on capital goods suggested slower economic growth in the fourth quarter.

Initial claims for state jobless benefits fell 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 316,000, the Labor Department said on Wednesday. The second straight week of declines defied economists’ expectations for a rise in claims to 330,000 and raised hopes for strong payroll growth in November.

“We are at a level that, if sustained, would point to solid job gains ahead. There is also a good chance that the October payroll gain may not have been an aberration,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania.

Employers added 204,000 new jobs to their payrolls last month, far more than expected, fanning speculation that the U.S. Federal Reserve might start to wind down its economic stimulus sooner rather than later.

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