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The Markets Now: Stocks Climb Higher After ECB Rate Cut, Jobless Claims Report


Plus, the US trade deficit shrank in March.

Stocks have rebounded after closing lower yesterday. The European Central Bank lowered its refinancing rate to 0.50% from 0.75% to help the continent's banking system. New weekly unemployment claims hit a five-year low, also helping stocks. The Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) increased 0.80% to 14,818.95. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) climbed 0.93% to 1,597.44, and the Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) rose 1.32% to 3,342.82.

The US Department of Labor reported today that seasonally adjusted weekly unemployment claims fell 18,000 week-over-week to 324,000 for the week ending April 27. The four-week moving average fell 16,000 to 342,250. Seasonally adjusted continuing unemployment claims increased 12,000 week-over-week to 3,019,000 for the week ending April 20. The four-week average decreased 18,000 week-over-week to 3,055,500. Read the press release here.

The US Census Bureau and the US Bureau of Economic Analysis reported today that a $38.8 billion trade deficit occurred in March. March exports totaled $184.3 billion and March imports totaled $223.1 billion. February's revised trade deficit was $43.6 billion. Read the press release here.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that nonfarm business sector labor productivity increased at a 0.7% annual rate during the first quarter of 2013 from the first quarter of 2012. Output increased 2.5% and hours worked 1.8% year-over-year. Unit labor costs in nonfarm businesses increased 0.5% year-over-year for the first quarter of 2013. Read the press release here.

Bloomberg reported that its Consumer Comfort Index increased one point week-over-week to -28.9 for the week ending April 28. This is the highest reading since January of 2008. Year-over-year, the index increased 8.7 points.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported today that job cuts dropped 23% from March's announced layoffs of 49,225 to announced layoff plans of 38,121 in April. April's reading is the lowest since December. Read the press release here.

The US Energy Information Administration stated today in its Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report that working gas in storage increased by 43 billion cubic feet week-over-week to 1,777 billion cubic feet. Read the press release here.

The US Treasury announced today that it will auction $29 billion of 3-month Treasury bills and $24 billion of 6-month Treasury bills on May 6.

The Federal Reserve Board of Governors will report on its balance sheet and the money supply today at 4:30 p.m. EDT.

MetLife (NYSE:MET) rose 3.71% to $39.83. The largest US life insurer reported yesterday that its first-quarter net income increased from a loss of $174 million, or $0.16 per share, in the prior-year quarter to a gain of $956 million, or $0.87 per share.

Visa (NYSE:V) spiked 5.88% to $175.79. The largest payment network reported yesterday a fiscal second-quarter net income that dropped 1.7% from $1.29 billion, or $1.91 per share, in the prior-year quarter to $1.27 billion, or $1.92 per share. Operating revenue increased 15% year-over-year to $2.96 billion.

Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) jumped 5.70% to $53. The company announced that it has begun a third Phase 3 study of its pill-form hepatitis C treatment. It claims that earlier results indicated the treatment could cure almost all hepatitis C patients with a program that lasted from 8 to 12 weeks.

Prudential (NYSE:PRU) increased 8.27% to $64.18. The second-largest life insurer reported an after-tax operating income of $1.079 billion, or $2.28 per share, compared to $1.61 per share in the prior-year quarter.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) climbed 1.93% to $447.77.

Twitter: @ChrisWitrak
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