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US Job, Housing Markets Improve

FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015, photo, job applicants fill out and turn in forms during a job fair at Dolphin Mall in Miami.

The U.S. job and housing markets are improving, according to economic reports published Thursday, which may make it more likely that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates.

The number of Americans signing up for unemployment compensation hovered hear a 40-year low last week.

The number of new jobless claims rose 3,000 last week, to hit 259,000 nationwide. Economists follow new unemployment claims to track layoffs, and say any number below 300,000 probably means the job market is getting better.

Thursday's report may be evidence that U.S. domestic demand is strong enough to offset weak overseas markets.

A survey by the American Institute of CPAs says Americans' "personal financial satisfaction" improved over the past couple of months, in spite of stock market turbulence and other issues.

The modest gains come as low oil prices restrain inflation, and some U.S. residents are getting better jobs. This is cutting the under-employment rate, which had many working fewer hours than they wanted, or below their skill levels.

Housing market rebounds

Another sign of economic improvement is in the home building industry. Trade publication Builder Magazine says rising demand is sparking a shortage of skilled labor in some areas. Severe problems in the housing sector were a key cause of the financial crisis, and economists watch it closely.

The National Association of Realtors says September home sales rebounded from August, rising 4.7 percent. If sales continued at this rate for a full year, nearly 5.6 million houses and condominiums would change hands.