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Unemployment claims lower, cheering U.S. markets

AFP-JIJI

U.S. stocks closed solidly higher Thursday after data pointed to an improving employment and housing picture.

In closing trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 84.79 points, or 0.63 percent, to 13,596.02.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 8.31 points, or 0.56 percent, to 1,480.94.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index jumped 18.46 points, or 0.59 percent, to 3,136.0.

Stocks “remain firmly north of the flat line” thanks to “upbeat reports from the U.S. housing and employment fronts,” broker Charles Schwab said during trade.

The Department of Labor released data Thursday that pointed to the lowest number of new weekly jobless claims in five years.

Meanwhile, Commerce Department data showed the number of new houses under construction rebounded strongly in December.

Among the big gainers on Thursday, CBS rose 8.3 percent, helped by an upgrade from Wedbush analysts after it said it would sell off its international outdoor advertising business and convert its domestic outdoor advertising operations into a real estate investment trust.

Boeing picked up 1.2 percent after the shares fell sharply Wednesday following the grounding of its new 787 Dreamliner in the wake of problems on several of the aircraft.

Bank of America dropped 4.2 percent after it reported slim earnings due to extensive litigation-related costs.

Citigroup, another victim of the 2008 housing bust, lost 2.9 percent after it reported a large earnings miss.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury rose from 1.82 percent late Wednesday to 1.88 percent late Thursday. The yield on the 30-year U.S. Treasury rose from 3.02 percent to 3.07 percent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

European stocks advanced on Thursday on positive U.S. economic data, although the mining sector suffered after Rio Tinto announced a shock $14 billion writedown that sparked the resignation of its boss.

London’s FTSE 100 index of leading companies rose 0.46 percent to 6,132.36 points, and Frankfurt’s DAX 30 gained 0.58 percent to 7,735.46 points. In Paris, the CAC 40 jumped 0.96 percent to 3,744.11 points, winning a boost from strong earnings from supermarket giant Carrefour and European airliner group Airbus.

Sentiment was hit by the resignation of Rio Tinto CEO Tom Albanese after the Anglo-Australian mining giant announced the writedown on its Mozambique coal assets and ailing aluminum business. In reaction, Rio Tinto shares slid 0.53 percent to 3,439.5 pence. The group added that Albanese has been replaced by iron ore boss Sam Walsh.