US Stocks Rise As Americas Unemployment Rate Settles

US stocks closed higher overnight with sentiment lifted by a drop in the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 47.38 points (0.46 per cent) in closing trades to 10,444.14, a day after the market ended on a flat note.

The Nasdaq composite added 11.63 points to 2,292.31 while the broad-market S&P500 index gained 4.18 points (0.37 per cent) to 1,122.97.

Before the opening bell, the Labor Department said fewer Americans claimed jobless benefits in the week to February 20.

The department said some 469,000 initial jobless claims were filed, versus 498,000 the week before, marking the first fall in three weeks. Analysts had predicted the seasonally adjusted claims would hit 470,000.

“The initial claims report has provided some support…, not so much because the report was good but because it was less bad than expected,” said’s Patrick O’Hare.

“While the pace of layoffs may be slowing, the key takeaway here is that the pace of hiring isn’t accelerating to any meaningful degree,” he said.

The weekly claims data came ahead of a much anticipated government report on Friday on the unemployment situation in February.

Analysts are predicting job losses of around 50,000 in February, pushing unemployment up from 9.7 per cent to 9.8 per cent.

Investors remained concerned over the Greek debt crisis and other US economic data released Thursday.

“Lingering uncertainty regarding the next direction for the economy, exacerbated by festering uneasiness regarding Greece’s debt problems, is hamstringing the bulls and the markets continue to be marred by a lack of conviction,” analysts at Charles Schwab said in a client note.

A smaller-than-expected rise in US factory orders and an unexpected drop in pending home sales “is doing little to clear up some of the economic uncertainty,” the analysts said.



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