Stocks Opened Mostly Higher after Trade, Jobs Data

The U.S. stock market opened mostly higher on Thursday, as investors weighed a rise in initial jobless claims against a narrowed trade deficit in April. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately rose 35.72 points to 12,084.66. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 3.46 points to 1,283.02. The Nasdaq Composite Index lapsed 2.86 points to 2,672.52.

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits hardly changed for a second straight week, stuck at a high level that points to a slowing job market. Weekly unemployment benefit applications ticked up 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 427,000 last week, the Labor Department said.

The trade deficit unexpectedly narrowed to $43.7 billion April, from a deficit of $46.8 billion in March according to a report from the Census Bureau. Economists had expected it to widen slightly to a shortfall of $48.7 billion, according to Briefing.com.

U.S. food prices are expected to stay high through 2012 because a wet spring will likely cut the size of this fall’s corn harvest. The United States will have a surplus of just 695 million bushels of corn next year, less than the 900 million estimated last month.

The European Central Bank is expected Thursday to signal that another rate increase is coming as early as next month, a step that would underscore the bank’s determination to fight inflation even if it increases the burden on heavily indebted Greece, Portugal and Ireland.

Citigroup Inc said computer hackers breached the bank’s network and accessed data on hundreds of thousands of bank card holders in the latest of a string of cyber attacks on high-profile companies. Citigroup said about 1 percent of its card customers were affected by the breach, which a report in the Financial Times said had been discovered in May during routine monitoring.

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