Stocks recovered almost all of yesterday's losses.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 16,331.0 (+108.8, +0.6%)
- S&P 500: 1,872.0 (+11.2, +0.6%)
- Nasdaq: 4,319.2 (+11.6, +0.2%)
And now the top stories:
- This week's initial jobless claims report was watched closely, as it coincided with the survey week for the Bureau of Labor Statistics' official monthly jobs report. Claims climbed to 320,000 during the week ending March 15 from 315,000 the week prior. "The smaller than expected increase in claims is particularly positive for March nonfarm payroll prospects," said TD Securities Gennadiy Goldberg. "Despite the increase in claims this week, we expect initial claims in the 315K-335K range to remain consistent with monthly payroll reports in the 175K-225K range, suggesting that labor market momentum should improve more notably as negative weather effects begin to abate in the spring."
- Here's Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi's Chris Rupkey on what it could mean for monetary policy: "Unemployment claims are consistent with the Fed’s view yesterday that progress in the labor market is continuing. It also indicates that there is not as much to be done on the jobs front. For all their concern about the labor market and so-called underemployment, the Committee still looks for substantially higher interest rates in the future, 1% at the end of 2015 and 2.25% at the end of 2016. The Fed can try to give forward guidance with words, but these statements are lost with the cold, hard facts of the timeline they have provided in their forecasts. The bottom line is short-term interest rates are going up as current conditions in the labor market are normalizing."
- The Philadelphia Fed's business outlook survey was better than expected. The headline index surged to 9.0 in March from -6.3 in February. Economists were expecting 3.2. From the Philly Fed: "Firms reported increases in overall activity, new orders, and shipments this month. Price pressures remained moderate. The survey’s future activity indexes indicate that firms expect continued growth and employment increases over the next six months."
- Existing home sales were right in line with expectations, climbing 0.4% in February to an annualized rate of 4.60 million. "We had ongoing unusual weather disruptions across much of the country last month, with the continuing frictions of constrained inventory, restrictive mortgage lending standards and housing affordability less favorable than a year ago," said the NAR's Lawrence Yun.
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