US Stocks Rise As Fewer File for Jobless Benefits; Factory Orders Fall

U.S. stocks rose on Thursday as investors monitored economic reports and developments in Ukraine.

Crimea’s parliament on Thursday voted to join Russia and scheduled a referendum for March 16 on the move, escalating the standoff between Moscow and the West over the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula.

Costco Wholesale shares declined after the warehouse club operator reported a 15 percent drop in quarterly profit, trailing analysts’ estimates. Shares of Staples fell sharply after the office-supplies chain projected a quarterly drop in sales and said it would shut as many as 225 stores in North America.








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The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 75.42 points, or 0.5 percent, to 16,435.6, with JPMorgan Chase leading gains that included 21 of its 30 components.

Climbing to an intraday record 1,881.87, The S&P 500 was lately at 1,880.65, up 6.84 points, or 0.4 percent, with finance and health care the best performing and utilities and consumer staples the laggards among its 10 major industry groups.

the Nasdaq rose 7.94 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,365.94.

For every five stocks on the decline, roughly nine gained on the New York Stock Exchange, where 118 million shares traded as of 10:15 a.m. Eastern. Composite volume cleared 550 million.

Oil futures fell 52 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $100.93 a barrel and gold added $1.50, or 0.1 percent, to $1,341.8 an ounce.

The 10-year Treasury yield used in figuring mortgage rates and other consumer loans rose 3 basis points to 2.738 percent.

In Europe, stocks gained after the European Central Bank held its interest rate unchanged and hiked its 2014 growth outlook.

In the U.S. on Thursday, the government reported jobless claims last week declined by 26,000 to 323,000. Another report had U.S. productivity rising 1.8 percent in the fourth quarter.

And, Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported its count of U.S. companies planning to cut staff fell in February, with the bulk of layoffs seen in the financial sector.

Stock-index futures held modest gains after the data.

The government also reported a 0.7 percent decline in factory orders in January, slightly more than the consensus forecast for a 0.5 percent drop.

On Wednesday, U.S. stocks were near unchanged, with the S&P 500 closing just shy of its record, as investors tracked developments in Ukraine and disregarded U.S. economic reports as impacted by the weather.

Source: CNBC