New claims for U.S. unemployment insurance rose only slightly last week from seven-month lows, offering a sign of stabilization in the troubled job market, official data showed Wednesday.

Initial jobless claims rose to 393,000 in the week ending Nov. 19, the Labor Department said. The prior week's number was downwardly revised to 391,000 claims, the lowest level since April.

The number of new applications for unemployment benefits has signaled stabilization in recent weeks amid a tough job market in which the unemployment rate is at 9% and economic growth too anemic to spur job creation.

The four-week moving average of initial jobless claims, which helps to smooth out week-to-week volatility, fell for the fourth straight week, to a level only 1.5% higher than the lowest point of the year, in March.

The average dropped by 3,250 to 394,250 claims.

Since May 2009, the jobless rate has been stuck at 9% or higher, except for two months this year, in February and March.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011