Stocks Opened Higher amid Oil Rally, Weak Jobs Data

U.S. stocks opened higher on Thursday, boosted by strong gains in oil prices, But a larger-than-expected rise in weekly jobless claims weighed on risk appetite. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately rose 32.94 points, or 0.19%, to 17,744.06. The S&P 500 added 2.51 points, or 0.12%, to 2,066.97. The Nasdaq Composite was down 9.01 points, or 0.19%, to 4,751.68.

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week to the highest level in more than a year, raising further concerns about the health of the labor market in the wake of a slowdown in job gains in April. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 294,000 for the week ended May 7.

U.S. oil prices hit a six-month high on Thursday, supported by data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) showing tightening supply. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) U.S. crude futures were 58 cents higher at $46.81 at 1213 GMT. Brent crude futures were trading at $48.00 per barrel, up 40 cents from their last settlement.

Ralph Lauren Corp. (RL) reported fourth-quarter earnings that beat estimates. It reported net income of $41 million, or 49 cents per share, down from $124 million, or $1.41 per share, for the same period last year. Revenue for the quarter totaled $1.87 billion, down from $1.89 billion last year.

Kohl’s Corp.’s (KSS) missed first-quarter profit and reported a surprise decline in sales. Earnings for the quarter ended April 30 fell to $58 million, or 31 cents a share, from $127 million, or 63 cents a share, in the same period a year ago. Revenue fell 3.7% to $3.97 billion from $4.12 billion.

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