Stocks erased morning losses to close higher on Thursday. The energy sector was the worst performer and tech shares also lagged. On the employment front, the Labor Department said that first-time claims for state unemployment benefits fell to 684,000 for the week ended March 20, down from 781,000 a week earlier and below the Bloomberg consensus forecast of 730,000. This was the lowest number since before the pandemic. The GDP increased at an annual rate of 4.3% according to the third estimate, up from the second estimate of 4.1%. Fed Chair Jerome Powell reiterated that the Fed is committed to targeting 2% average inflation rate. The Dow rose 0.6%, the S&P 0.5%, and the Nasdaq 0.1%. Crude oil settled at $58 per barrel, while gold fell nearly $8 to $1725 per ounce.
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