Risk appetite continued to be brisk on Wall Street on Thursday as the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a new all-time high and the S&P 500 closed in on its own record.
Better than expected jobless claims data, which showed that claims are at a 5-year low, helped to spark the rally. A lower greenback and a higher euro also helped price action in the stock market.
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 84 points, or 0.58 percent, to 14,539.
The S&P 500 added almost 9 points, or 0.56 percent, to 1,563.
The Nasdaq Composite rose 14 points, or 0.43 percent, to 3,259.
Jobless claims for the week ending March 9 fell to 332,000 versus 342,000 for the week ending March 2. This was the lowest initial claims reading since January 2008 and was better than the consensus expectations of 350,000 initial jobless claims.
Continuing jobless claims fell from 3.094 million for the week ending February 23 to 3.024 million for the week ending March 2. This was ahead of consensus expectations which called for continuing claims to fall to 3.100 million.
In the month of February, PPI data released on Thursday showed that producer prices rose 0.7 percent. This is a gain versus the 0.2 percent rise reported in January. Economists had consensus estimates calling for a rise of 0.6 percent in PPI heading into the report.
Core PPI, which excludes food and energy costs, rose 0.2 percent for February, which was in-line with consensus estimates.
Energy prices were higher on Thursday on the back of strong risk sentiment. Late in the equity trading session, NYMEX crude futures had added 0.49 percent to $92.98 while Brent crude contracts were up 0.75 percent to $109.42. At last check, natural gas futures had added 3.75 percent to $3.82.
In late afternoon trade, COMEX gold futures were essentially unchanged at $1,588.40 while silver had lost 0.63 percent to $28.78. Copper contracts rose 0.30 percent on the day.
In the agricultural complex, both corn and wheat were higher on the day with corn adding a little less than 1 percent and wheat futures rising better than 2 percent. Volatility was limited in soft commodities, with the only significant mover being cotton, which was up 2.50 percent.
Heading into the close of equities, the iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (NYSE:TLT) was down around 0.42 percent to $115.10. The move lower in Treasury prices caused yields to rise.
The yields on the 2-Year and 5-Year Note were flat at 0.26 percent and 0.87 percent, respectively. The yield on the 10-Year rose one basis point to 2.03 percent and the 30-Year Bond yield was higher by two basis points to 3.24 percent.
The PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish ETF (NYSE:UUP), which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of foreign currencies, was last down 0.35 percent heading into the close. The move lower in the dollar likely helped spur risk appetite on the day.
The closely watched EUR/USD pair was last trading up 0.32 percent at $1.2999. Other significant movers included the GBP/USD which was up better than 1 percent and the AUD/USD which gained 0.82 percent.
Volatility and Volume
The VIX hit a new 52-week low on Thursday as the market continues to surge. The VIX fell almost 4 percent on the session to 11.39.
Volume remained relatively light on the trading session. Around 95 million SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE:SPY) shares traded hands compared to a 3-month daily average of 131.5 million.
Sinovac Biotech (NASDAQ:SVA) was up better than 19 percent near the equity close after the company released positive data in a Phase III drug trial.
Men's Wearhouse (NYSE:MW) had climbed more than 18 percent late on Thursday after the company released its Q4 earnings results and said it was exploring strategic alternatives for its K&G operations.
E-Trade Financial (NASDAQ:ETFC) fell almost 9 percent after announcing a secondary offering of 27.4 million shares by shareholder Citadel Equity.
Shares of Dynegy (NYSE:DYN) were up a little less than 9 percent late on Thursday after the company released a bullish Q4 earnings report.
VirnetX Holding (AMEX:VHC) was trading down around 28 percent heading into the closing bell after the company lost a patent case against Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO).
Chindex International (NASDAQ:CHDX) was up around 9 percent after the company's fourth-quarter earnings report.
CommVault Systems (NASDAQ:CVLT) jumped better than 8 percent on the session. The move was driven by market rumors about a potential takeover of the company.
Apparel retailer The Buckle (NYSE:BKE) rose roughly 3 percent after the company beat Wall Street income and sales projections for its fiscal fourth-quarter.
Ebix (NASDAQ:EBIX) rose roughly 4 percent after the company released its fourth-quarter and full-year financial results prior to the opening bell.
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