U.S. Stocks Move Modestly Higher Following Upbeat Jobless Claims Data

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Stocks have moved modestly higher in morning trading on Thursday, regaining ground after moving to the downside earlier in the week. The major averages have all moved to the upside, with the Dow and the S&P 500 looking to snap three-day losing streaks.

Currently, the major averages are just off their highs of the session. The Dow is up 135.05 points or 0.4 percent at 35,166.12, the Nasdaq is up 46.41 points or 0.3 percent at 15,333.04 and the S&P 500 is up 12.01 points or 0.3 percent at 4,526.08.

The strength on Wall Street comes after the Labor Department released a report showing a bigger than expected decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended September 4th.

The report said initial jobless claims fell to 310,000, a decrease of 35,000 from the previous week's revised level of 345,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 335,000 from the 340,000 originally reported for the previous week.

With the bigger than expected decrease, jobless claims once again dropped to their lowest level since hitting 256,000 in the week ended March 14, 2020.

"While the August jobs report showed employers may have hit the pause button on hiring amid renewed concerns about the pandemic, the claims data suggest a reluctance to lay off workers amid a record number of job openings," said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead Economist at Capital Economics.

Last Friday, the Labor Department released a separate report showing U.S. job growth fell well short of economic estimates in the month of August.

Traders are also digesting the European Central Bank's latest monetary policy decision, with the bank announcing it would slow the pace of asset purchases under its pandemic emergency purchase program.

Airline stocks have moved sharply higher in morning trading, with the NYSE Arca Airline Index soaring by 2.5 percent.

The rally by airline stocks comes even though several major carriers lowered their forecasts due to the recent surge in Covid-19 cases.

Financial stocks are also seeing notable strength on the day, while gold stocks have moved to the downside amid a decrease by the price of the precious metal.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.6 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index plunged by 2.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets are turning in a mixed performance following the ECB announcement. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is down by 0.9 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index are both up by 0.4 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have shown a lack of direction over the course of the morning. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by less than a basis point at 1.331 percent.

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