Stocks rise after holiday break
NEW YORK -- Stocks are higher in quiet trading on Wall Street as traders return from the Christmas holiday.
Investors were encouraged by a sharp drop last week in the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits, the latest sign of improvement in the U.S. job market.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 122 points, or 0.8 percent, to close at 16,479 Thursday. It was the Dow's 50th record high close this year.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose eight points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,842. The Nasdaq composite rose 11 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,167.
T-Mobile rose 2 percent on talk that Japan's Softbank was considering buying the company.
Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose near 3 percent, the highest since September.
Unemployment claims declined last week
WASHINGTON -- Fewer Americans than projected filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, indicating the labor market is improving.
Jobless claims declined by 42,000 to 338,000 in the week ended Dec. 21, a Labor Department report showed Thursday in Washington.
The year-end holidays make it difficult to adjust for fluctuations in applications for jobless benefits, a Labor Department official said as the figures were released. Other data show a pickup in employment is helping boost personal spending, which accounts for almost 70 percent of the economy.
The jobless claims report showed the four-week moving average, a less volatile measure than the weekly figures, rose to 348,000 last week from 343,750.
The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits increased by 46,000 to 2.92 million in the week ended Dec. 14, the highest since August. The continuing claims figure does not include the number of Americans receiving extended benefits under federal programs.
Those who have used up their traditional benefits and are now collecting emergency and extended payments decreased by about 40,700 to 1.33 million in the week ended Dec. 7.
Thirty-five states and territories reported a decline in claims, while 18 reported an increase. These data are reported with a one-week lag.
Neal Communities help deliver Christmas
LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The team at Neal Communities recently gathered donations for "Toys For Tots."
The Neal team, and a number of Neal's trade partners and subcontractors, collected more than 100 toys, which included 21 bicycles, 15 scooters, various large stuffed animals, and coloring books and puzzles. The team also collected about $200 in cash that was used to purchase additional toys for the drive. Other toys purchased included dolls, games, kids' watches, bike helmets, and kites.
-- Herald staff and wire reports