Stocks Started Higher after Jobless Claims

U.S. stocks began higher on Thursday after jobless claims illustrated ongoing economic improvement in the U.S. and signals from Europe and China were also supportive.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately rose 31.04 points, or 0.23%, to 13,421.55. The S&P 500 index added 5.30 points, or 0.36%, to 1,466.32. The Nasdaq Composite climbed 14.14 points, or 0.46%, to 3,119.95.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week, the Labor Department said on Thursday, but details of the report suggested the jobs market continued to grow at a moderate pace. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 371,000, the Labor Department said.

China’s export growth rebounded surprisingly sharply to a seven-month high in December, a strong finish to the year after seven straight quarters of slowdown, but subdued global demand means that the spike may not herald an enduring recovery. Trade data released on Thursday showed the value of China’s exports grew 14.1 percent last month compared with a year earlier.

The European Central Bank kept interest rates at a record low of 0.75% on Thursday in the absence of hard evidence that the eurozone recession is deepening and as inflation remains above its target.

Deutsche Bank AG (FRA:DE:DBK) made a profit of at least 500 million euros ($654 million) on trades in 2008 tied to the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, and other global benchmark rates.

Tiffany & Co (NYSE: TIF – news) said on Thursday that its net worldwide sales during the holiday season had risen 4 percent, continuing a trend of modest gains in recent months, and the upscale jeweller said it would plan conservatively for 2013. The company maintained its full-year profit forecast of $3.20 (1.99 pounds) to $3.40 per share.

Morgan Stanley plans to slash 1,600 jobs in what may be just the beginning of a new round of layoffs at large investment banks, this time driven by a deeper reassessment of Wall Street businesses in the face of new regulations and capital standards.

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