U.S. Stocks Sharply Higher After Jobless Claims Drop; Dow Up 1.31%

Forex Pros – U.S. stock markets posted sharp gains after the open on Thursday, after government data showed U.S. initial jobless claims dropped to a two-and-a-half-year low and as oil prices retreated.

During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 1.31%, the S&P 500 index gained 1.32%, while the Nasdaq Composite index surged 1.49%. 

Earlier in the day, the U.S. Department of labour said the number of people claiming initial jobless benefits in the week ending February 26 unexpectedly dropped to a seasonally adjusted 368K, defying expectations for an increase to 400K.

Meanwhile, crude oil price retreated from a 29-month high after the Arab League said it was studying a plan proposed by OPEC-member Venezuela to end the violence in Libya.

Shares in the airline sector were boosted by the news, with U.S. Airways soaring 4.8%, rival Delta Airlines jumped 1.7%, while shares of JetBlue added 2.2%. 

U.S. listed shares of Canada’ second largest lender TD Bank climbed 3.7% after it said first quarter net income jumped by 19% to USD1.58 billion. Revenue in the quarter rose by 8.4% to USD5.6 billion, citing strong retail-banking earnings in Canada and the U.S.

Across the rest of the sector, shares of Bank of America gained 2.25%, Citigroup added 1.4%, while JP Morgan saw shares 1.9%.

The world’s largest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev saw shares climb 2.3% after it reported fourth quarter earnings rose to USD3.86 billion, beating expectations of USD3.31 billion.

Also Thursday, clothing retailer Zumiez saw shares rally 4.4% after it reported same-store sales in February jumped by 12.8% from January, blowing past expectations of 4.2%.

The GAP, meanwhile saw shares shed 0.9% after February same-store sales dropped 3% from January, exceeding expectations for a drop of 0.9%.

Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were broadly higher. The EURO STOXX 50 jumped 1.21%, France’s CAC 40 surged 1.14%, Germany’s DAX rallied 1.33%, while the FTSE 100 gained 1.15%.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to publish data on service sector activity.

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