After ADP’s underwhelming private sector hiring data was released yesterday, the Labor Department announced that weekly applications for unemployment benefits fell by 18,000, with the four-week average dropping to a five-year low of 342,250.
Though investors will have to wait until Friday for the Department’s more extensive report on public and private sector hiring for the month of April, last week’s dip in jobless claims is the second significant decrease in a row, and could be a possible indicator of less layoffs, if not also more hiring.
The Department of Commerce also emerged with some positive news when it said that the trade deficit of the United States for the month of March had dropped 11 percent to $38.8 billion, the most since 2009 and a healthy measure beneath the forecasted drop of $42 billion.
While any decrease in any sort of deficit is generally welcomed, the smaller than expected trade deficit was all the same largely the result of a significant decrease in imports. Exports, on the other hand, slipped by nearly 1 percent, a reminder of decreased demand from Europe and other struggling areas of the global economy.
Meanwhile, somewhat reassuring economic news came out of the Eurozone, with the European Central Bank President Mario Draghi’s announcement that it would be following the example of the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan by dropping interest rates to a historical low of 0.5 percent.
The move is being seen as a signal that EU leaders are shifting away from austerity measures and towards more aggressive fiscal stimulus policies in order to breathe life into the recession-stricken group of nations.
The S&P 500 was up 0.94 percent to close at 1,597.53, breaking its record for the second time this week. T-Mobile USA (TMUS), the company formed out of the merger between Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile (DTEGY) and MetroPCS (PCS), was up 7.32 percent to close at $17.73, after ending on a gain of over 6 percent during its market debut on Wednesday.
Data storage device manufacturer Seagate Technologies rose 7.28 percent to $39.63 as the company beat expectations on earnings per share and revenue, and offered a higher forecast for the current quarter. JCPenney (JCP), a company whose fortunes seem to have changed drastically over the last two weeks, bounced 3.89 percent to $16.83 after the company publicly apologized to shoppers in a televised ad in which it also asked them to return to its stores.
The Dow was up 0.88 to close at 14,830.96 points with a good amount of upward momentum being created by tech shares, led by Cisco Systems (CSCO), up 1.67 percent to $20.72, International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) up 1.25 percent to $202.12, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) up 1.05 percent to $33.06, along with gains for Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and Intel (INTC).
Only three of the Dow’s components dropped on the day, with The Coca-Cola Company (KO), Unitedhealth Group (UNH), and AT&T (T) down less than one percent.
The Nasdaq advanced 1.26 percent to close at 3,340.62 points with big gains for Facebook (FB), up 5.62 percent to $28.97. Shares were spurred by the company’s strong earnings report released late on Wednesday that showed Facebook increasing its mobile presence and beating revenue expectations.
Shares for Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) were up 2.76 percent to $24.79, while Apple (AAPL) was up 1.42 percent to close at $445.52, while biotech company Gilead Sciences (GILD) gained 4.07 percent to $52.18.
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