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Stocks Seeing Continued Strength In Mid-Afternoon Trading - U.S. Commentary

Stocks have moved mostly higher over the course of the trading day on Thursday, benefiting from a positive reaction to upbeat jobs data. The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 have climbed firmly into positive territory, while the Dow continues to encounter resistance near the 13,000 level.

Much of the strength on Wall Street stems from the release of a report from the Labor Department showing an unexpected drop in initial jobless claims in the week ended February 25th. With the drop, jobless claims pulled back to their lowest level in almost four years.

The upbeat jobs data has largely overshadowed some other disappointing economic reports, including a report from the Institute for Supply Management showing an unexpected drop by its index of activity in the manufacturing sector.

The markets have also benefited from significant strength that has emerged among financial stocks, with strong gains by brokerage stocks contributing to a 1.7 percent advance by the NYSE Arca Broker/Dealer Index. Earlier in the session, the index reached a seven-month intraday high.

Trucking stocks have also shown a strong move to the upside on the day, driving the Dow Jones Trucking Index up by 2 percent. Software, steel, electronic storage, and oil stocks are also posting notable gains, moving higher along with most of the major sectors.

The major averages have given back some ground in the past few minutes, with the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 pulling back off their highs. The Dow is up 35.49 points or 0.3 percent at 12,987.56, the Nasdaq is up 25.70 points or 0.9 percent at 2,992.59 and the S&P 500 is up 8.51 points or 0.6 percent at 1,374.19.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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