U.S. Stocks Mostly Higher Amid Positive Reaction To Jobless Claims Data

After an early move to the upside, stocks have given back some ground over the course of morning trading on Thursday but remain mostly positive. The major averages have all moved higher after ending the previous session mixed.

Currently, the major averages are all holding on to gains. The Dow is up 69.61 points or 0.2 percent at 32,868.01, the Nasdaq is up 45.42 points or 0.4 percent at 11,621.43 and the S&P 500 is up 10.12 points or 0.3 percent at 4,002.13.

The early upward move on Wall Street came following the release of a report from the Labor Department showing initial jobless claims rose by more than expected in the week ended March 4th.

The report said initial jobless claims climbed to 211,000, an increase of 21,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 190,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 195,000.

With the bigger than expected increase, jobless claims reached their highest level since hitting 223,000 in the week ended December 24th.

The data helped ease concerns about labor market tightness, which the Federal Reserve has pointed to as a reason for stubbornly elevated inflation.

Trading activity has remained somewhat subdued, however, as traders look ahead to the release of the Labor Department’s more closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday.

Economists currently expect employment to jump by 203,000 jobs in February after surging by 517,000 jobs in January, while the unemployment rate is expected to hold at 3.4 percent.

“Fed Chair Powell seems to have signaled they will accelerate the tightening pace to a half-point rate rise if we get both a hot NFP and inflation reports,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.

He added, “Some traders are thinking that if tomorrow delivers a not-so-hot jobs report, that we could see Fed fund futures lean towards a quarter-point rate rise for the March 22nd FOMC meeting.”

Software stocks have shown a strong move to the upside on the day, driving the Dow Jones U.S. Software Index up by 1.4 percent.

Considerable strength is also visible among airline stocks, as reflected by the 1.3 percent gain being posted by the NYSE Arca Airline Index. The index has reached its best intraday level in over a month.

On the other hand, banking stocks have moved sharply lower on the day, dragging the KBW Bank Index down by 3.7 percent to a two-month intraday low.

Steel stocks are also seeing notable weakness in morning trading, resulting in a 1.4 percent drop by the NYSE Arca Steel Index.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index climbed by 0.6 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index dipped by 0.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have turned mixed on the day. While the German DAX Index has inched up by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is just below the unchanged line and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is down by 0.6 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have shown a lack of direction over the course of the morning. Currently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 1.4 basis points at 3.962 percent.

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