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US dole claims down

THE number of Americans claiming new jobless benefits fell to a four-month low last week, offering a sliver of hope for an economy battered for days by a credit rating downgrade and falling share prices.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 395,000, according to the Labour Department.

This was the lowest level since early April and economists had expected a reading of 400,000.

"We are not necessarily on the verge of another dip in economic activity," said Millan Mulraine, a senior macro strategist at TD Securities in New York.