The US markets closed mostly higher on Thursday, with the Nasdaq closing at a record high, as investors welcomed a deluge of stronger-than-expected corporate earnings reports and economic data. Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell, speaking about capital markets and the economy, said now was a good time to review the raft of banking regulations put in place since the financial crisis.
On the economy front, the number of out-of-work people collecting unemployment checks fell to a 17-year low in April, underscoring the strongest US labor market in years. So-called continuing jobless claims fell by 49,000 to 1.98 million, marking just the second time they've fallen below 2 million during the current eight-year-old economic expansion. Continuing claims also dipped below the 2 million mark in March. The last time state unemployment offices sent out fewer checks to jobless Americans was in April 2000. Initial jobless claims, meanwhile, rose by 10,000 to a still-low 244,000 in the seven days stretching from April 9 to April 15. . The number of new applicants for unemployment benefits has registered less than 300,000 for 111 straight weeks, the longest streak since the early 1970s. The more stable monthly average of jobless claims was a touch lower at 243,000. They fell by 4,250 from the prior week.
Meanwhile, the gap between an index of leading and one of current economic indicators is at its highest since the eve of the recession - suggesting either a sharp upward turn in the economy is imminent, or that on a number of measures, confidence gauges have gotten ahead of themselves. The Conference Board on Thursday reported that its leading economic index rose 0.4% in March. More telling, perhaps, is that in the six-month period ending March, the leading economic index increased at a 4.9% annual rate, versus just the 1.9% annual rate of growth for what's called the coincident economic index. Separately, the manufacturing index from the Philadelphia Fed slid in April, but from high levels, suggesting slower growth in the factory sector after a postelection surge. The index fell to 22.0 from 32.8. It had hit a 33-year high of 43.3 in February and has receded every month since then. In April, the new orders reading slipped to 27.4 from 38.6, signaling future activity. The shipments gauge, which tracks current activity, was also slightly down, touching 23.4 after a 32.9 reading in March.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 174.22 points or 0.85 percent to 20,578.71, Nasdaq gained 53.75 points or 0.92 percent to 5,916.78, while S&P 500 ended higher by 17.67 points or 0.76 percent to 2,355.84.
The Indian ADRs closed mostly in green; Dr. Reddy's was up 0.22%, Tata Motors was up 0.18% and Wipro was up by 0.11%. On the other hand, ICICI Bank was down 0.22% and Infosys was down by 0.08%.