Stocks rose modestly for a second straight session Thursday as unemployment claims fell unexpectedly and consumer spending grew, if somewhat...
NEW YORK — Stocks rose modestly for a second straight session Thursday as unemployment claims fell unexpectedly and consumer spending grew, if somewhat tepidly, without triggering inflation.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 55.71 to 10,889.44.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, fell 14 cents to close at $26.59 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, gained 93 cents to $71.32.
Broader stock indicators also were higher. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 5.33 to 1,268.12, and the Nasdaq composite index gained 14.83 to 2,246.49.
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The Labor Department reported that first-time jobless claims fell to a better-than-expected 318,000 last week, down 13,000 from the previous week. And while the Commerce Department reported a modest 0.3 percent rise in both personal income and consumer spending last month, the report also pointed to falling inflation risks.
However, light volume — blamed in equal measure on the upcoming holidays and New York’s transit strike — meant little interest in bidding stocks substantially higher, analysts said.
“Right now, there’s just a lack of solid trading volume out there, so we’re struggling to move higher based on the good news we have,” said Peter Cardillo, chief strategist and senior vice president at S.W. Bach. “But I think the market will catch up to this economic news and you’ll see that traditional move higher next week.”
Crude-oil futures fell 28 cents to settle at $58.28 Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Investors also were encouraged by the latest index of leading economic indicators. The index rose 0.5 percent in November as unemployment claims dropped and energy prices eased.
Still, investors seemed uninterested in bidding stocks strongly higher. With uncertainty over the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate policy once Chairman Alan Greenspan retires in late January, there’s little impetus to make a major bet.
“Technically, the market still looks pretty good despite the light volume we’ve seen this week,” said Jeff Kleintop, chief investment strategist for PNC Financial Services Group in Philadelphia. “But we’re probably not ready to break out above this level until we get a better read on when the Fed is going to be finished up raising rates.”