Stocks Erased Opening Gains

U.S. stocks erased opening gains on Thursday, as economic data indicated the economy continues to mend. The Dow Jones industrial average lately fell 11.27 points, or 0.09 percent, to 13,182.83. The S&P 500 Index gained 0.39 point, or 0.03 percent, to 1,394.67. The Nasdaq Composite added 3.12 points, or 0.10 percent, to 3,043.85.

The number of Americans claiming new jobless benefits fell back to a four-year low last week and manufacturing in the Northeast held up in March, providing more signs the economy was firmly on a self-sustaining growth path.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 351,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Separately, the New York Federal Reserve said its Empire State general business conditions index rose to 20.21 – highest level since June 2010- from 19.53 in February.

U.S. wholesale prices posted the biggest increase in February in five months as a spike in oil added to the cost of doing business. The producer price index rose a seasonally adjusted 0.4% last month, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Crude-oil futures edged higher on Thursday. Crude oil for April delivery rose 18 cents to $105.61 a barrel, after finishing the prior session down $1.28, or 1.2%, to end the session at $105.43 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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