U.S. Stocks Snap Three-Day Drop as Jobless Claims Drop

According to Bloomberg,

U.S. stocks rose, halting a three-day drop in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, after a report showed applications for unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level in almost two months.

Johnson Controls Inc., the largest U.S. auto-parts maker, climbed 7 percent after increasing a stock-repurchase program by $3 billion. General Motors Co. (GM) advanced 2.3 percent after the U.S. Treasury Department said it plans to sell its remaining stake in the company, possibly by year end. Target Corp. (TGT) lost 4.1 percent after earnings declined as U.S. consumers curtailed spending.

The S&P 500 increased 0.5 percent to 1,789.62 at 10:11 a.m. in New York. The equity benchmark fell almost 1 percent over the past three days on signs the Federal Reserve may reduce economic stimulus in the coming months. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 74.91 points, or 0.5 percent, to 15,975.73 today.

“After three consecutive negative days it’s reasonable to expect a breather at least in the beginning of the day,” Lawrence Creatura, a Rochester, New York-based fund manager at Federated Investors Inc., which oversees about $364 billion, said in a phone interview. “There is some good news in the labor report too in that it does indicate a degree of improvement.”

The S&P 500 has rallied 25 percent in 2013, poised for its best year in a decade, following stimulus from the Fed and better-than-estimated earnings. The gauge traded for about 17 times its companies’ reported earnings at its last record on Nov. 15, the highest valuation since May 2010.

Jobless Numbers

New York Stock Exchange

New York Stock Exchange (Bloomberg)

U.S. jobless claims in the week ended Nov. 16 dropped by 21,000 to 323,000, the fewest since the week ended Sept. 28, from a revised 344,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The median forecast of 47 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a drop to 335,000.

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