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In brief: Jobless claims increase, remain near 2007 levels

WASHINGTON – Initial jobless claims rose more than expected last week, to 336,000, but remained near their lowest level since 2007.

The number of people filing for first-time unemployment benefits was up from the previous week’s revised figure of 323,000, which was the fewest since January 2008, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Analysts had been expecting a more modest increase, to 329,000.

The less-volatile four-week average continued to drop last week, falling 2,250 to a new post-Great Recession low of 330,500. The last time the four-week average was lower was in November 2007.

Federal Reserve officials are watching labor market indicators closely as they try to decide when to begin reducing their bond-buying stimulus program.

Initial jobless claims have been trending down this year, a sign the labor market is improving. In January, there were an average of 360,000 weekly claims.

Economists say claims below 350,000 indicate moderate job growth. And the weekly numbers are consistent with the approximately 180,000 net new jobs added each month from April through July.

But job growth slowed last month, with the economy adding 162,000 net new jobs. That was the fewest since March. The unemployment rate dropped to 7.4 percent, its lowest level since December 2008.

Martoma faces new charges

NEW YORK – A former hedge fund portfolio manager arrested on charges he carried out a record-setting insider trading scheme has been accused in New York of pursuing an inside edge on a clinical trial from over 20 doctors.

A rewritten indictment unveiled Thursday against Mathew Martoma says he sought illegal information from doctors from 2006 to 2008 while working at SAC Capital Advisors. The Boca Raton, Fla., man has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and securities fraud. He is free on bail.

Martoma was arrested in November on charges that he persuaded a medical professor to leak secret data from an Alzheimer’s disease trial. Prosecutors say the inside information enabled other investment professionals at the hedge fund founded by Steven A. Cohen to earn a quarter-billion dollars illegally.

Martoma’s lawyer declined comment.

Yahoo ranks first in site visits

NEW YORK – For the first time in more than two years, more Americans visited Yahoo’s websites than Google’s, according to comScore Inc.’s Internet traffic data for July.

The research firm said Wednesday that Yahoo Inc.’s websites saw 196.6 million unique U.S. visitors last month, while Google’s sites had 192.3 million. The last time Yahoo was ahead of Google was in May 2011, according to comScore.

Yahoo is still far behind Google in making money from the people who visit its websites. After stripping out advertising commissions, Yahoo’s revenue came to $1.07 billion in the April-June quarter. Google’s, meanwhile, was $11.1 billion by the same measure.

Research firm eMarketer estimates that Google will generate $38.83 billion in worldwide digital advertising revenue this year, more than any other company. Facebook Inc. is at No. 2 with an estimated $5.89 billion, while Yahoo is No. 3 with $3.63 billion expected. EMarketer’s figures include mobile ads, which comScore does not count in its Web visitor figures.