FOX Business: Capitalism Lives Here
A round of strong data on the U.S. labor market whetted traders' buying appetites, sending the blue-chip average higher for the tenth session in a row in the longest winning streak since 1996.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 83.9 points, or 0.58%, to 14539, the S&P 500 climbed 8.7 points, or 0.56%, to 1563 and the Nasdaq Composite jumped 13.8 points, or 0.43%, to 3259.
The Dow managed to notch a new record high for the eighth session in a row, in the longest such streak since the mid-1990s. Meanwhile the broader, and more closely watched, S&P 500 is within points of the record high it logged in 2007.
Claims Data Lift Sentiment
Traders got a handful of reports on the U.S. economy Thursday. The number of people filing for first-time jobless benefits fell by 10,000 to 332,000 last week, the Labor Department said, better than estimates of 350,000. The four-week moving average, which helps smooth volatility, dropped to 346,750 -- its lowest level since March 2008.
The monthly jobs report for February showed a dramatically bigger-than-expected payroll gain, which has economists taking a more bullish take on the labor market. Market participants are paying especially close attention to jobs data since the Federal Reserve has hinted that it could taper asset purchases earlier than expected if the labor market heats up.
A different report from Labor showed inflation at the wholesale level rising 0.7% in February from the month before, which matched forecasts. Excluding the food and energy components, prices at the producer level climbed 0.2%, also inline with forecasts. Inflation is another gauge the Fed watches very closely -- although the central bank has repeatedly said so-called inflation expectations are running at or below target levels.
On the corporate front, the Fed is set to release its second round of stress tests on the biggest U.S. banks. This round will focus on how balance sheets will be impacted by proposed capital and dividend plans. The first set, released last week, showed all but one bank surviving a hypothetical economic storm better than it would have during the financial crisis, suggesting banks have bolstered their balance sheets.
Samsung is set to unveil its latest smartphone, the Galaxy S4, that is powered Google's (GOOG) Android operating system. Analysts have noted that the Android phones, along with others like those from BlackBerry (BBRY) could chip away at Apple's (AAPL) dominance in the U.S. marketplace.
On the European front, the European Council will hold a summit in Brussels on the day. The group that consists of European Union heads of state is expected to discuss a wide range of issues, including fiscal plans for several major countries, including France, and potentially a bailout program for Cyprus.
The troika, which is made up of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, said "significant progress" has been made on Greece, but issues still remain. The group will take a break until April to perform technical work.
Elsewhere, oil futures edged up 51 cents, or 0.55%, to $93.03 a barrel. New York Harbor gasoline dipped 0.03% to $3.141 a gallon. In metals, gold rose $2.30, or 0.14%, to $1,591 a troy ounce.
The Euro Stoxx 50 climbed 0.99% to 2731, the English FTSE 100 rose 0.36% to 6505 and the German DAX jumped 0.79% to 8035.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 rallied 1.2% to 12381 and the Chinese Hang Seng edged up 0.28% to 22619.