12:15 PM New York – Stocks in New York traded higher after earnings were ahead of expectations and automakers reported best April sales since 2007. Ford sales surged 18% and General Motors and Chrysler sales increased 11% in April. Weekly jobless claims declined to the lowest since January 2008.
Stocks in New York traded higher after April auto sales gained and the European Central Bank lowered its rate to a record low of 0.5%.
Initial jobless claims at the end of last week dropped to the lowest level in more than five years.
The claims declined to 324,000 at the end of Saturday last week from the revised 342,000 in the previous week, the Labor Department said Thursday.
The claims were this low last time was in January 2008 and the claims below 350,000 are mildly positive for the labor market.
The seasonally adjusted four week average of claims also declined 16,000 to 342,250.
U.S. Makers Lead Auto Sales Gains in April
Automakers reported rising sales in April with the U.S. automakers leading the industry.
Chrysler and General Motors sales in the month increased 11% and Ford sales in April soared 18%.
Sales at Toyota declined 1.1% and Nissan sales surged 23%.
Automakers are estimating sales in the year to increase more than 5% to more than 15 million units.
Market indexes in Europe pared gains after a rate cut and a mixed batch of earnings.
European Central Bank lowered its reference rate to 0.5%, from the already record low rate of 0.75% and left its deposit rate for banks at zero.
The rate cut was widely expected after the latest series of weak economic data in the last three weeks and measured inflation dipped to 1.2% in April.
In London trading, FTSE 100 index fell 0.2% or 12.1 to 6,439 and in Frankfurt the DAX index gained 0.3% or 26 to 7,940.
In Paris, CAC 40 index slipped 0.3% or 11.4 to 3,845.
Stocks in Review
) increased 3% after the personal networking site reported first-quarter sales soared 38% to $1.46 billion and profit excluding certain items was 12 cents a share.
) gained 5% after the automaker narrowed its loss in Europe and reported higher than expected earnings.
) increased 3% after the largest U.S. life insurer swung to net profit from a loss in the year ago quarter as the company expands in the emerging markets.