NEW YORK – Stocks rose modestly Thursday morning after new reports on unemployment and durable goods orders showed the economy is continuing its recovery.
The upbeat figures helped assuage investors about the rebound, a day after a disappointing report on November sales of new homes renewed caution about the health of the economy.
Overseas markets rose. Asian markets rallied on expectations China will maintain loose monetary policy.
The Labor Department said the number of new claims for unemployment benefits fell to 452,000 last week, down 28,000 from the previous week, providing the latest sign the job market is gradually improving. It was the best figure since September 2008, before the credit crisis peaked. A recovery in the job market is vital to a strong recovery.
Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predicted claims would fall to 470,000.
A report from the Commerce Department also showed the manufacturing sector is improving and should provide support as the nation exits its worst recession since the Great Depression.
Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket durable goods increased less than expected in November, rising 0.2 percent. However, excluding volatile transportation orders, durable goods orders rose 2 percent compared with October, double economists' average estimate.
In early morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 24.26, or 0.2 percent, to 10,490.70. The Standard & Poor's 500 index increased 3.30, or 0.3 percent, to 1,123.89, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 7.23, or 0.3 percent, to 2,276.87.
The market will close at 1 p.m. EST Thursday and be closed Friday for the Christmas holiday. Trading has been light throughout the week heading into the holiday season. Low volume can exaggerate market movements.