NEW YORK (AFP) – US stocks opened slightly higher on Thursday despite disappointing jobless numbers, as traders weighed news that the European Central Bank will continue stimulus measures.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 34.28 points (0.30 percent) to 11,290.06 in opening trades, while the S&P 500 index, a broader measure of the market, rose 4.72 points (0.39 percent) to 1,210.57.
The tech-rich Nasdaq gained 9.93 points (0.38 percent) to 2,559.18.
“The initial claims data of late has produced some pleasant surprises…. The report this morning, however, was a slight disappointment,” said Patrick O’Hare of Briefing.com.
“We are inclined to view the jump in initial claims as normal volatility. This week’s number is elevated, but the trend in initial claims has been decidedly lower,” he added.
Initial claims for US unemployment benefits jumped more than expected last week breaking a downward trend seen in recent weeks.
The Labor Department said 436,000 new jobless claims were filed in the week ending November 27, six percent higher than the prior week’s claims, which had fallen to a July 2008 low.
The sharp increase was more than the 422,000 claims expected by most analysts.
Investors were also weighing the European Central Bank’s decision to maintain lending rates at one percent and continue its program of buying government bonds, a key part of its economic stimulus measures.
Concerns about Europe’s sovereign debt have weighed heavily on the global markets in recent weeks in the wake of a massive bailout plan for Ireland’s banking system.
On Wednesday, Wall Street stocks soared after very strong US private-sector hiring figures and strong manufacturing data in the United States and China.