The Labor Department has reported that first-time claims for state unemployment aid for the week ended Jan. 10 dropped 11,000 to 343,000 from a revised 354,000 in the previous week.

Analysts were expecting claim to post a small drop to 352,000 from the previously reported 353,000 for the Jan. 3 week.

The four-week moving average dropped to the lowest level since early February 2001. The average dropped 3,000 to 347,500.