WASHINGTON — The number of people seeking unemployment benefits rose last week to a seasonally adjusted 377,000, up from a nearly four-year low the previous week. But the longer-term trend is pointing to a healthier job market.

Applications have trended down over the past few months. The four week average has declined to 377,500. When applications fall consistently below 375,000, it tends to signal that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.

Some economists say the figures suggest further job gains ahead.

The nation has added at least 100,000 jobs for six straight months. And the unemployment rate has declined to 8.5 percent, its lowest in almost three years.

Separately, orders for long-lasting manufactured goods rose as companies spent more on computers, machinery and other equipment. The Commerce Department said today that durable goods orders rose 3 percent last month.

Stock market futures rose after the durable goods report.