After a couple of soft sessions, international markets rallied overnight. In Europe, stocks advanced to a 4 1/2-year high before the region’s leaders begin a two-day Brussels summit. Euro-area finance ministers meet separately tomorrow to discuss a bailout for Cyprus.
Stateside, the Dow Jones extended its recent winning streak to 10 days and the S&P 500 closed in on a record high as investors were encouraged by data that showed the labour market’s recovery is improving.
The Dow added 84 points (+0.6%) to end at 14,539, whilst the S&P 500 added nine points (+0.6%) to finish at 1563.23 – about two points shy of its record closing high set in October 2007.
The US Producer Price Index rose in February by the most in five months as gasoline prices spiked, the Labor Department said in a separate report.
There was, however, little sign of a broader increase in inflation pressures that could force the Fed to tighten monetary policy.
First-time jobless claims fell by 10,000 to 332,000 in the week ended March 9, the fewest since mid-January, according to data today from the Labor Department in Washington.
The median forecast of 49 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an increase to 350,000. The four-week average declined to a five- year low.
Gold futures rose for the fifth time in six sessions as a decline by the dollar boosted demand for the precious metal as an alternative investment.
Gold futures for April delivery advanced 0.1% to settle at $1,590.70 an ounce on the Comex in New York.
Crude oil for April delivery rose 51 cents to $93.03 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was the highest settlement since 25 February.
The US dollar fell after touching its strongest level versus the euro since December as European leaders debate loosening the shackles on national budgets to address economic weakness amid the region’s debt crisis.
There is no major local economic data due out during today’s session.