Markets closed up on Wall Street today:
▲ Dow +0.36 percent
▲ S&P +0.43 percent
▲ Nasdaq +0.81 percent
▲ Oil +1.75 percent
▲ Gold +0.55 percent
On the commodities front:
▲ Oil (NYSE:USO) rose to $108.14 a barrel
▲ Gold (NYSE:GLD) up to $1,781.10 an ounce
▲ Silver (NYSE:SLV) rose 3.36 percent to settle at $35.48
Today’s markets were up because:
1) Jobs: New claims for unemployment benefits were unchanged last week, holding steady for a second week at the lowest level seen since March 2008. The four-week moving average for new claims, a better measure of labor market trends, fell 7,000 to 359,000, also the lowest since March 2008, signaling that employers may be close to ending the long cycle of heavy layoffs, instead preparing for more hiring.
2) Europe: A strong report on Germany’s economy lent some early support to markets this morning, but the European Commission said Thursday that it expects the euro zone to face a mild recession in 2012, thanks to negative growth in Greece, Spain, Portugal, and four other countries in the 17-nation single-currency region.
3) Companies: Sears traded lower after reporting earnings that fell far short of expectations, while Target reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and issued a positive outlook for 2012. IBM, Travelers, and Disney helped offset Hewlett-Packard’s declines after the company reported dismal PC sales for the quarter ended January 31, dragging down 44 percent.
[Editor’s note: the above is a cross post that originally appeared on Wall St. Cheat Sheet.]