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Market Recap: Jobs, Housing Data Breath Some Life Into Stocks

Markets closed up on Wall Street today:

▲ Dow +0.96 percent

▲ S&P +1.10 percent

▲ Nasdaq +1.51 percent

▲ Oil +0.49 percent

▲ Gold +0.10 percent

On the commodities front:

▲ Oil (NYSE:USO) rose to $102.30 a barrel

▲ Gold (NYSE:GLD) rising to $1,729.80 an ounce

▲ Silver (NYSE:SLV) rose 0.26 percent to settle at $33.50

(Related: January Core Producer Price Index Up Significantly)

Today’s markets were up because:

1)  Jobs: The U.S. Department of Labor reported today that initial claims for unemployment benefits “unexpectedly” fell last week to the lowest level in nearly four years, marking the most substantial evidence of an improving labor market since the national unemployment rate reportedly dropped to 8.3 percent in January.

Regardless of the veracity of this news, it had a positive effect on the markets.

2) Housing: An unusually mild January helped builders beat forecasts for housing starts, which were up 1.5 percent from December to an annual rate of 699,000, the Commerce Department reported today. Meanwhile, applications for building permits, the best indicator of housing starts in the next two or three months, increased to a 676,000 annual rate.

3) Moody’s: Investors are paying little heed to ratings agencies these days, as financial stocks led today’s rally despite Moody’s putting Credit Suisse, UBS, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Deutsche Bank on watch for possible downgrades, to name a few. All of the stocks were trading between 1 percent and 4 percent higher today, largely outperforming the major U.S. indexes.

[Editors’ note: portions of the above are from a cross post that originally appeared on Wall St. Cheat Sheet.]

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