Jobless claims jumped 24,000 to 329,000 last week. Analysts were expecting 315,000 new claims for unemployment benefits. Separately, the Commerce Department said orders for durable goods rose 2.6% in March, better than the 2.0% increase economists were expecting.
Stocks were poised for a technology-led rally after strong reports from Apple (AAPL) and Facebook (FB) after the close Wednesday. Apple also announced another $30 billion share buyback and a huge 7-for-1 stock split that has some speculating the company could be positioning itself as a potential Dow component.
Dow components Caterpillar (CAT) and General Motors (GM) also reported better-than-expected results before the opening bell. Caterpillar came in well ahead of Wall Street estimates as the company continues to cut costs in response to slowing sales. GM, meanwhile, managed to beat Wall Street estimates amid ongoing investigations into the company’s handling of recalls connected to 13 deaths.
Ahead of Starbucks’ results, there are new reports that the company could be close to a deal with SodaStream (SODA). SodaStream shares surged Wednesday on reports that Starbucks could buy a stake in the Israeli countertop soda-machine maker. PepsiCo (PEP) and Dr. Pepper Snapple (DPS) have also been named as possible buyers.
And the Food and Drug Administration today will begin regulating sales of e-cigarettes. The FDA is also proposing rules to ban sales of e-cigarettes to minors. The new regulations will require manufacturers to report ingredients used in e-cigarettes to the FDA and seek the agency's approval on their products. The regulations will not ban advertising or flavors like chocolate and bubble gum, which would appeal to children.
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