From The Associated Press
NEW YORK —
An encouraging report on the labor market and better sales from Costco and other retail stores helped push the stock market higher Thursday.
The government said that 367,000 Americans sought unemployment benefits for the first time last week. That’s an increase from the previous week but fewer than economists had forecast.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 80 points to 13,575 shortly after 2:30 p.m. Bank of America led the 30 stocks in the Dow with a 3 percent surge, rising 26 cents to $9.37.
“It’s not just the jobless claims numbers on their own,” said Brian Gendreau, market strategist at Cetera Financial Group. “They’re coming on the back of ... manufacturing and service-sector reports that were better than people expected this week.”
The stock market was little changed after the Federal Reserve released the minutes from its meeting in early September, when the Fed hatched a new open-ended program to spend $40 billion a month on mortgage bonds. The minutes revealed that all but one member of the Fed’s interest-rate committee voted in favor of the bond-buying effort.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose nine points to 1,459. The Nasdaq composite rose seven points to 3,142.
The job-market report helped push the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note up to 1.66 percent from 1.62 percent late Wednesday. Traders tend to sell Treasurys following better economic news.
The Commerce Department said that orders to U.S. factories came in better than forecasts, even though the 5.2 percent drop in orders was the biggest in more than three years.
Retailers including Costco reported September sales that came in ahead of Wall Street’s estimates. Costco gained $1.83 to $101.45.
The key event this week comes Friday morning when the Labor Department releases its monthly jobs report. Economists forecast that the unemployment rate inched up to 8.2 percent in September from 8.1 percent in August.
In the first few days of October, the major stock market indexes have climbed steadily higher. The Dow is up 1 percent and the S&P 500 is up 1.4 percent.
Among other stocks making big moves:
— Google rose $3.68 to $766.27. Google and U.S. publishers announced they had settled a seven-year dispute over Google’s book-scanning project. A lawsuit filed by authors remains, though.
— Sprint Nextel sank 3 percent, or 16 cents, to $5.04. Reports said the wireless carrier may launch a competing bid for MetroPCS Communications. That would pit Sprint against Deutsche Telekom, which plans to merge MetroPCS with its T-Mobile USA unit.