Stocks Opened Higher Amid Stronger Data

U.S. stocks started higher on Thursday, rebounding from the prior session’s decline, as stronger labor market and manufacturing data lifted sentiment, while higher quarterly profit from FedEx also boosted sentiment. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately was up 121.54 points, or 1.03%, to 11,945.02. The S&P 500 gained 12.15 points, or 1.00%, to 1,223.97. The Nasdaq Composite rose 19.98 points, or 0.79%, to 2,559.29.

The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits dropped to a 3-1/2 year low last week and factory activity in New York state scaled a seven-month high in December, more evidence of a pick-up in economic activity. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 366,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. That was the lowest level since May 2008, and confounded economist’ expectations for a rise to 390,000. while a gauge of New York state manufacturing activity rose to its highest level since May.

U.S. wholesale prices rose modestly last month as companies paid more for such items as food and pharmaceuticals. But energy prices barely rose, keeping inflation in check. The Labor Department says the producer price index, which measures price changes before they reach consumers, rose 0.3 percent in November.

FedEx Corp (NYSE:FDX) reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit and said it is buying 27 new Boeing aircraft to update its fleet for fuel efficiency and cost savings. The company reported fiscal second-quarter net profit of $497 million, or $1.57 per share, up from $283 million, or 89 cents per share, a year ago. Analysts had been expecting a profit of $1.52 a share.

The U.S. deficit in the broadest measure of foreign trade fell in the summer to the lowest level in nearly two years, reflecting stronger exports of commercial aircraft and other goods and a jump in the sales of services such as airline tickets to foreigners. The Commerce Department said Thursday that the deficit in the current account dropped 11.6 percent to $110.3 billion, the lowest level since the final three months of 2009.

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