10:35 AM New York – U.S. stocks gyrated after opening higher. Weekly jobless claims increased 16,000 to 326,000 and the increase was consistent with the pre-recession level. Trade deficit in February widened on higher price of imported crude oil and a decline in exports. ECB unrevised its benchmark rate.
Stocks on Wall Street opened higher after the release of international trade data, weekly jobless claims and a private survey on service sector.
S&P 500 index increased 1.92 or 0.1% to 1,892.82 and the Nasdaq Composite Index added 4.11 or 0.1% to 4,280.57.
Stable Weekly Jobless Claims
Initial weekly claims of unemployment benefits increased 16,000 at the end of last week to 326,000, according to the Labor Department.
Previous week claims were revised lower by 1,000.
The claims are consistent with the pre-recession levels as job market showed some stability after two months of harsh winter conditions in most of the nation.
The four-week average, the less volatile measure of unemployment claims, increased 250 from the revised previous week average to 319,250.
The department said the agency did not estimate data for any state and there were no special factors overshadowing the state-by-state data. The government also revised data going back to 2009.
The Labor Department is scheduled to release the monthly unemployment rate tomorrow.
Weaker Exports, Trade Gap Widens
U.S. exports declined and trade gap in February widened unexpectedly, the Commerce Department said in a report today.
Trade deficit increased 7.7% to $42.3 billion in February from the revised January gap of $39.3 billion.
The deficit shot up in February after petroleum products prices increased. However, the recent discovery of shale gas reserves in the U.S. has led the a sharp fall in trade deficits and the current account deficit dropped to the lowest in the last quarter of 2013 in fourteen years.
Exports decreased 1.1% to $190.4 billion, the lowest since September and imports increased 0.4% to $232.7 billion.
Imports from China declined 19.5% and exports to the second largest economy in the world dropped 4.6% in February.
Service Industry Index Gains
U.S. service sector index expanded to 53.1 in March from 51.6 in February, according to the Institute for Supply Management.
The index in March showed the level above 50 for the 51st month in a row, the level that is a mid-point between expansion and contraction.
The February index was the worst level since four year ago as the harsh weather conditions affected most of the nation. The increase in the index was welcomed by investors but the increase remained below the seven-year high of 57.9 reached in August.