Better job news sends stocks higher; Dow at 16,000
By STEVE ROTHWELL AP Markets Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - Encouraging news on the U.S. job
market pushed stocks higher on Wall Street Thursday, sending the market
toward some big milestones.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose back near
16,000 points and the Standard & Poor's 500 index was just below
1,800 points. Both indexes crossed those levels for the first time on
Monday, but have yet to close above them.
First-time applications for unemployment benefits
dropped by 21,000 last week, the Labor Department reported, the latest
sign that the U.S. job market is recovering. The number of applications,
which is a proxy for how many workers are being laid off, is now near
where it was before the Great Recession.
General Motors rose after the U.S. government said
it expects to sell its remaining stake in the company by the end of the
year. The Treasury Department still owns 31.3 million shares of the auto
giant after bailing it out five years ago. GM gained $1.07, or 2.8
percent, to $38.76.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 92 points,
or 0.6 percent, at 15,992 as of 2:30 p.m. The Standard & Poor's 500
index was up 13 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,794. The Nasdaq composite
rose 41 points, or 1 percent, to 3,962.
In a sign that investors are taking on more risk,
small-company stocks rose at a much faster pace than the rest of the
market. The Russell 2000 index jumped 18 points, or 1.7 percent, to
The stock market has struggled this week as
investors grapple with the prospect of the Federal Reserve reducing its
stimulus as well as some disappointing corporate earnings. The S&P
500 is trading close to its all-time high and is heading for what could
be its biggest annual gain in a decade, making investors wary of pushing
stocks higher. The S&P 500 is up 26 percent so far this year.
Johnson Controls was among the biggest gainers in
early trading after the company, which makes heating and ventilation
systems for buildings, said its board approved at $3 billion increase in
its share repurchase program. Johnson Controls rose $2.80, or 5.9
percent, to $51.10.
In government bond trading, the yield on the
10-year note edged down to 2.78 percent from 2.80 percent Wednesday. The
yield, which is a benchmark used to set interest rates on many kinds of
loans, including home mortgages, is the highest it's been since Sept.
In commodities trading, the price of oil rose
$1.59, or 1.7 percent, to $95.44 a barrel. Gold dropped $14.40, or 1.1
percent, to $1,243.60 an ounce.
Among other stocks making big moves;
- Dollar Tree, a discount retailer, fell $3.21, or
5.5 percent, to $55.70 after the company reported earnings that fell
short of Wall Street's expectations. Other discount retailers also
dropped. Dollar General fell 88 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $57.48.
- Target fell $2.83, or 4.3 percent, to $63.59
after the retailer said its third-quarter net income fell 47 percent
after it was stung by costs related to its expansion into Canada.
-Williams-Sonoma jumped $3.80, or 7 percent, to
$59.31 after the company said its third-quarter net income rose 16
percent as customers spent more at its West Elm and PBteen stores.
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