Stocks Ramp-Up on Encouraging Jobs Report
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock averages gained Thursday as new claims for jobless benefits fell for the first time in four weeks and investors continued to bet on equities emboldened by expectations that central banks worldwide will maintain policies to bolster their economies.
The S&P 500 was up 0.36% to 1,593.37 after the index shattered its intra-day record of 1,576.09 set in October 2007. The Federal Reserve this week indicated it will maintain its asset buying program for the foreseeable future and Japan reasserted its aggressive monetary policies.
The Department of Labor reported Thursday that the number of U.S. residents filing for unemployment benefits fell by 42,000 to 346,000 in the week ended Apr. 6, more than reversing the previous week's jump, from an upwardly-revised 388,000. Economists were expecting initial jobless claims to add up to 365,000.
Simultaneously the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the price index for U.S. imports fell 0.5% in March, following increases of 0.6% in February and 0.5% in January led by a downturn in fuel prices, easing inflation concerns and stoking confidence that Federal Reserve policymakers still have more room to maneuver on stimulus.
"We still remain concerned about the longer-run inflationary effects of zero rates and continued quantitative easing, but the March inflation data cycle looks to be very benign judging from this first report," John Ryding and Conrad DeQuadros, economists at RDQ Economics in New York said in a note.
Technology was the worst performing sector Thursday as Hewlett-Packard
Microsoft has been downgraded by analysts at no less than three brokerage firms. Goldman Sachs analyst Heather Bellini on Thursday cut the software giant to sell from neutral and lowered the price target to $27 from $30 reflect worsening PC trends and a lack of traction in tablets and smartphones.