Unemployment benefits applications fall to 294,000

Fewer people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, as the continued low levels of applicants reflect growing job security.

The Labor Department says weekly applications fell 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 294,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, ticked up a slight 250 to 299,250.

Over the past 12 months, the four-week average has plunged 10 percent.

Weekly applications have been under 300,000 for 12 of the past 13 weeks, a historically low level indicating that employers foresee continued economic growth.

Regulators fine 10 banks over tactics in Toys R Us IPO

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is fining 10 banks a total of $43.5 million, saying they tried to win roles in the initial public offering of Toys R Us by offering the company favorable analyst coverage.

FINRA says the banks violated its conflict-of-interest rules by telling the company their analysts would write favorable reports about Toys R Us if they were named as underwriters of the offering. The toy retailer filed for an IPO in 2010 but ultimately decided not to go public.

The companies consented to the findings but did not admit or deny the allegations. Paying the highest fine, $5 million, were Barclays PLC, Citigroup Inc., Credit Suisse Group AG, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

— From staff and news services