Stocks Opened Higher; Jobless Claims at Five Month High

U.S. stocks opened slightly higher on Thursday as investors remained cautious in light of volatility in commodity markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average latel rose 34.64 points, or 0.20%, to 17,526.94. The S&P 500 was up 3.49 points, or 0.17%, to 2,051.11. The Nasdaq Composite gained 11.26 points, or 0.22%, to 5,034.13.

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose to a five-month high last week. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 282,000 for the week ended Dec. 5, the highest level since early July, the Labor Department said.

Yum Brands Inc (YUM.N) said it planned to return up to $6.2 billion to shareholders before completing the separation of its China business, which is expected by the end of 2016. Same-store sales fell 1 percent at KFC outlets and 9 percent at Pizza Hut restaurants.

Oil fell on Thursday, as oversupply concerns persisted, and prices were seen as vulnerable to further weakness in the run up to year-end. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) U.S. crude futures (CLc1) were down 43 cents at $36.73 per barrel, erasing early gains. WTI is down around 13 percent this month.

Ciena Corp. posted a downbeat revenue forecast but narrowed its loss in its latest quarter as the telecom-equipment maker continues to adapt to cloud-based and mobile-based networking demands. Ciena on Thursday issued fiscal first-quarter revenue guidance of $555 million to $590 million. For the most-recent period, Ciena reported a loss of $13.8 million, or 10 cents a share, compared with a loss of $30.7 million, or 29 cents, a year earlier.

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