10:50 AM New York – Stocks in New York traded higher after weekly jobless claims declined for the second week in a row and wholesale prices fell and current account deficit shrank unexpectedly in February. S&P 500 index inched closer to all-time closing high.
U.S. market indexes traded higher and the narrow Dow extended gains for the tenth day in a row and the S&P 500 index inched closer to its all-time high.
Weekly initial jobless claims declined again last week to 332,000, a drop of 10,000 from the revised claims a week ago.
The decline in claims offered yet another evidence of improving economic picture despite the higher taxes and looming budget cuts.
Wholesale prices in the U.S. increased 0.7% in February, a second monthly increase in a row. Core wholesale price index, excluding food and energy prices increased 0.2%, matching the gain January.
The producer price index increased 1.7% from the same month a year ago and core index also increased 1.7% in the same period, according to the data released by the Labor Department.
Separately, Commerce Department said current account deficit in the U.S. unexpectedly declined in the fourth quarter. The deficit declined 1.8% to $110.4 billion from a revised $112.4 billion shortfall.
European markets resumed their advance as leaders begin a 2-day summit in Brussels and leaders are expected to discuss high unemployment in southern Europe and possible ways to loosen some austerity measures. Finance ministers are expected to begin their meeting tomorrow and are expected to make headway to finalizing the aid to Cyprus.
Also, Spain successfully placed bonds at today’s unscheduled auction.
The official statistics agency of the euro zone said employment in the 17 countries declined 0.3% in the fourth quarter from the third to 145.7 million. Employment in the same quarter a year ago was 146.8 million. Nearly one million people lost their jobs in the currency zone.
The employment number is the lowest since the first quarter in 2006.
Swiss National Bank reaffirmed its commitment to defend its franc cap in its quarterly monetary assessment today. The central bank placed a cap of 1.20 to a euro in September 2011 after investors pushed franc close to parity with the euro.
The central bank also left its economic growth target for the current year between 1% and 1.5% as estimated in December.
Stocks in Review
) dropped 2.5% after JPMorgan Chase lowered its price target for the stock to $300 from $333.
) added 2.6% after Evercore Partners lifted its view on the stock.
E*Trade Financial (ETFC
) declined 6% after the online broker said it plans to sell 27.4 million shares in a secondary offering and its largest shareholder Citadel Equity Fund plans to sell its entire stake.
Men’s Wearhouse (MW
) soared 15% after the company lifted its stock buyback program and said it exploring “strategic alternatives” for its K&G chain.