NEW YORK (AP) — Stock futures were mixed Thursday after the government reported an increase in the number of first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week.

The figure was inflated by striking employees at Verizon. That strike ended earlier this week. Excluding Verizon's labor standoff, layoffs probably fell and that could ease anxiety over the potential of another recession.

The Labor Department said applications for benefits rose to 417,000 last week, the highest level in five weeks.

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