Markets closed up on Wall Street today:
- Dow +0.38 percent
- S&P+0.32 percent
- Nasdaq +0.07 percent
- Oil -1.65 percent
- Gold -0.95 percent
On the commodities front:
- Oil (NYSE:USO) dropped to $93.38 a barrel
- Gold (NYSE:GLD) fell to $1,571.80 an ounce
- Silver (NYSE:SLV) climbed 0.74 percent to settle at $29.15
Today’s markets were up because:
1) Jobs: The number of people filing for initial unemployment benefits fell to 366,000 last week, the Labor Department reported this morning—the lowest level since May 2008, and well below analysts’ estimates. The 19,000 decline in new claims matches a 19,000 decline from the week earlier, giving markets hope that persistently high unemployment might finally be easing up a bit.
2) Europe: Despite some positive economic news in the U.S.—mortgage rates sank to record lows, manufacturing activity jumped—the lingering threat of Europe’s debt crisis tempered sentiment. News that Ben Bernanke told Senate Republicans yesterday that the Federal Reserve had no plans to send additional aid to European banks only had investors fretting more about a situation already fraught with peril. And though a strong bond auction provided some relief for Spain today, it did little to calm larger fears for the future of the European Union.
3) Fashion: Michael Kors stock debuted on the New York Stock Exchange today, after the fashion brand raised $944 million in its initial public offering on Wednesday evening. The IPO was the largest ever for a U.S. fashion company. Michael Kors joined 10 other companies in going public this week, making for the most active IPO week in more than four years. Other hot IPOs this week include Zynga and Jive Software.
[Editor's note: the above is a cross post that originally appeared on Wall St. Cheat Sheet.]