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US markets closed higher; Dow reclaims 25,000 mark

The US markets closed higher on Thursday, with Dow closing above the 25,000 mark for the first time in nearly two weeks as US stocks finished higher for a fifth straight session in volatile trade. Wall Street opened solidly higher but subsequently lost ground before recouping losses, supported by the latest data on inflation and the labor market, which pointed to an economy that was growing but in no imminent danger of overheating.

On the economic front, initial US jobless claims increased by 7,000 to 230,000 in the seven days ended February 10. The more stable monthly average of claims rose by 3,500 to 228,500. Last week they touched a 45-year low. The number of people already collecting unemployment benefits climbed by 15,000 to 1.94 million. By comparison, 2.4 million people were receiving benefits in the same week a year earlier. US jobless claims have now been under the key 300,000 threshold that signals a strong labor market for 154 straight weeks. And soon the streak will pass the longest stretch of sub-300,000 readings since the government started monitoring the unemployment rolls in the 1960s. New claims were below 300,000 for 160 weeks from 1967 to 1970. Separately, two gauges of manufacturing sentiment showed continued solid growth in February, as both indicates rising price pressures. The Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index rose to a reading of 25.8 in February from 22.2 in January. The Empire State Index meanwhile slowed to a reading of 13.1 in February from 17.7 in January.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 306.88 points or 1.23 percent to 25,200.37, the Nasdaq gained 112.815 points or 1.58 percent to 7,256.43, the S&P 500 edged higher by 32.57 points or 1.21 percent to 2,731.20.

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