FOX Business: The Power to Prosper
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Stock-index futures held on to solid gains after new claims for unemployment benefits came in at a lower level than Wall Street had anticipated.
The Labor Department's weekly jobless claims report showed claims rose to 401,000 last week from 395,000 the week prior. Economists expected a larger rise to 410,000 for the week. This report comes ahead of the highly-awaited monthly employment report, which, economists anticipate, will show the unemployment rate sticking above 9%. A batch of relatively encouraging data released recently, however, has raised hopes that the jobs report could beat expectations.
Wall Street has closely followed developments on the euro zone's deepening sovereign debt crisis, which in recent weeks has put pressure on many European banks.
The European Central Bank's held interest rates steady at 1.5%, as was widely expected by economists. However, it came as somewhat of a disappointment after some analysts suggested the central bank would take stronger-than-expected measures to fight strengthening economic headwinds.
Separately, the Bank of England held rates steady at 0.5%, a historically-low level, as was widely expected. The BoE also unveiled a 75 billion pound stimulus program aimed at blocking the country from the region's sovereign debt crisis.
The European Commission said early Thursday it would make proposals for recapitalizing banks there. Analysts expect officials may implement a system wherein they trade lower quality assets tied to sovereign debt for higher-quality assets.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also noted later in the day that banks should first attempt to utilize national channels for liquidity before any considerations would be made to tap the euro zone rescue fund, called the European Financial Stability Facility.
The euro recently fell 0.4%, while the greenback gained 0.29% against a basket of world currencies.
Energy markets soared in the previous session, and continued their upward trend on Thursday. Light, sweet crude jumped $1.13, or 1.4%, to $80.82 a barrel. Wholesale RBOB gasoline climbed 2 cents, or 0.9%, to $2.59 a gallon.
Gold, meanwhile, gained $10.90, or 0.69%, to $1,653 a troy ounce.
Treasury yields have been clawing their way back from historic lows as investors have come back into equity and commodities markets. The benchmark 10-year note recently yielded 1.908% from 1.895%.
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) co-founder Steve Jobs died at the age of 56. Jobs was widely considered to be the visionary behind the company's revolutionary products, and its transformation into the world's most valuable technology company.
The Euro Stoxx 50 jumped 1.9% to 2,221, the English FTSE 100 soared 2% to 5,205 and the German DAX climbed 2% to 5,583.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 rose 1.7% to 8,522 and the Chinese Hang Seng leaped 5.7% to 17,172.