Claims by newly jobless workers for unemployment benefits in the US rose last week but remained near historically low levels pointing to a tight jobs market, according to latest Labour Department data.

Initial jobless claims, a sign of the pace of layoffs, rose to 265,000 in the week ending 19 March, from the prior week's revised level of 259,000 claims.

In keeping with the record of strong hiring in US industry over the past two years, new jobless claims have now held below 300,000 a week for 55 straight weeks, the best streak since 1973.

The four-week moving average ticked higher by 250 to 259,750 new claims, compared to 292,750 a year ago.

Job growth has been solid in the US economy, with 242,000 jobs added in February as the unemployment rate held at 4.9% for the second straight month, the lowest since February 2008.