Following the lackluster performance seen over the two previous sessions, stocks have moved mostly higher in morning trading on Thursday. With the upward move, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 have reached new record intraday highs.
The major averages have pulled back off their highs of the session but currently remain in positive territory. The Dow is up 118.72 points or 0.3 percent at 35,431.25, the Nasdaq is up 33.36 points or 0.2 percent at 15,342.74 and the S&P 500 is up 15.67 points or 0.4 percent at 4,539.76.
The strength on Wall Street comes after the Labor Department released a report showing a modest decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended August 28th.
The report said initial jobless claims dipped to 340,000, a decrease of 14,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 354,000.
Economists had expected initial jobless claims to edge down to 345,000 from the 353,000 originally reported for the previous week.
With the modest decrease, jobless claims fell to their lowest level since hitting 256,000 in the week ended March 14, 2020.
The weekly jobless claims data comes a day ahead of the release of the Labor Department’s more closely watched monthly jobs report.
Traders may stick to the sidelines ahead of the release of the monthly jobs report, which could impact the outlook for monetary policy.
Fed officials have indicated inflation has reached their target but they need to see further improvement in the labor market before they begin tapering asset purchases and raising interest rates.
Economists currently expect employment to jump by 750,000 jobs in August after surging by 943,000 jobs in July. The unemployment rate is expected to dip to 5.2 percent from 5.4 percent.
In other U.S. economic news, the Commerce Department released a report showing the U.S. trade deficit narrowed in the month of July.
The Commerce Department said the trade deficit narrowed to $70.1 billion in July from a revised $73.2 billion in June.
Economists had expected the trade deficit to narrow to $71.0 billion from the $75.7 billion originally reported for the previous month.
The narrower trade deficit came as the value of exports jumped by 1.3 percent to $212.8 billion, while the value of imports dipped by 0.2 percent to $282.9 billion.
Energy stocks are seeing substantial strength in morning trading, moving sharply higher along with the price of crude oil. Crude for October delivery is jumping $1.60 to $70.19 a barrel.
Reflecting the strength in the energy sector, the Philadelphia Oil Service Index is up by 3.2 percent, the NYSE Arca Oil Index is up by 2.9 percent and the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index is up by 2.5 percent.
Considerable strength has also emerged among tobacco stocks, as reflected by the 1.6 percent gain being posted by the NYSE Arca Tobacco Index. The index has reached its best intraday level in almost two years.
Transportation and chemical stocks are also seeing some strength on the day, although most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index rose by 0.3 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi slumped by 1 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets are little changed on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index is currently up by 0.1 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index are just above the unchanged line.
In the bond market, treasuries have pulled back near the unchanged line after seeing initial strength. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by less than a basis point at 1.300 percent.
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