WASHINGTON -- New claims for unemployment insurance fell last week to their lowest level in eight months, the Labor Department has reported. For the work week ending Oct. 4 new applications for jobless benefits dropped by a seasonally adjusted 23,000 to 382,000, the best showing since Feb. 8.

The more stable, four-week moving average of new claims, which smoothes out weekly fluctuations, declined by 11,500 last week to 393,500, also the lowest level since Feb. 8.