Stocks Ended Higher on Unemployment Report

Stocks closed modestly higher on Thursday, with the Dow hitting its third straight record as jobless claims fell to a six-week low. The Dow industrials rose 33.25 points, or 0.23%, to 14,329.49. The S&P 500 index gained 2.80 points, or 0.18%, to 1,544.26. The Nasdaq Composite rose 9.72 points, or 0.30%, to 3,232.09.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, suggesting a pick-up in the labor market recovery. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 340,000, declining for a second straight week, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

Americans stepped up borrowing in January to buy cars and attend school, while staying cautious about using their credit cards. Consumer borrowing rose $16.2 billion in January from December to a total of $2.8 trillion, the Federal Reserve said Thursday. That’s the highest level on record.

J.C. Penney Co Inc (JCP) said it has recently laid off about 2,200 employees at 100 of its stores and district offices, the latest move by the struggling department store operator to contain costs as it contends with deep sales declines.

Insurance giant MetLife Inc. is moving 2,600 jobs from offices in four Northeast states and California to North Carolina, which is offering tax and other incentives that could top $94 million.

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