Stocks Opened Higher after the Economic Data

U.S. stocks opened marginally higher on Thursday after the data showed that US housing starts surged in December and US jobless cliams hit lowest level in more than 43 years. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately fell 19.40 points, or 0.10%, to 19,785.32. The S&P 500 was off 1.29 points, or 0.06%, to 2,270.60. The Nasdaq Composite climbed 12.29 points, or 0.22%, to 5,567.94.

Fewer Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, another sign that most American workers enjoy job security. The Labor Department says 234,000 Americans sought jobless aid, a drop of 15,000 from the previous week.

In a separate report, U.S. builders ramped up home construction in December, led by a surge of apartment building, while single-family houses lagged. The Commerce Department says housing starts jumped 11.3 percent last month, after a sharp fall in November and big gain in October.

Crude-oil prices moved higher in Asian trade Thursday on encouraging data that showed oil production by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries was falling, pushing the market closer towards a rebalance. Light, sweet crude futures for delivery in February traded at $51.52 a barrel, up $0.44, or 0.9%. March Brent crude rose $0.49, or 0.9%, to $54.41 a barrel.

On Thursday afternoon at the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos, Alibaba and the International Olympic Committee announced a long-term digital partnership through 2028.

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