The U.S. labor market saw modest improvement last week as claims for unemployment benefits fell from a three-month high. Initial claims dropped 29,000 to a seasonally adjusted 469,000, according to the Labor Department. Still, this year's unemployment rate is expected to average 9.8%. Productivity, meanwhile, also saw more improvement than expected, rising to an annual rate of 6.9% in the fourth quarter versus a projected 6.2% growth rate.

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