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US markets end higher on Thursday

Extending their previous session's rally, the US markets ended higher on Thursday, prevailing over political uncertainty that left the markets fluttering throughout the day. However, profit taking helped to drag stocks lower early in the day, as traders cashed in on the rally seen on Wednesday, when the Dow posted its single-day point gain in history. Meanwhile, lingering concerns about the global economic outlook also weighed on the markets. On a percentage basis, the Dow's move from a 2.67% decline at its session low to a positive finish marked its biggest such intraday swing since October 4, 2011, when it recovered from a fall of 2.75% at its low. The Thursday turnabout was the largest such swing for the S&P 500 since May 25, 2010, and the largest for the Nasdaq since November 18, 2008.

On the economic front, the Labor Department released a report showing a slight drop in first-time claims for US unemployment benefits in the week ended December 22. The report said initial jobless claims slipped to 216,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week's revised level of 217,000. Street had expected jobless claims to inch up to 217,000 from the 214,000 originally reported for the previous week. Meanwhile, a separate report from the Conference Board showed a significant deterioration in consumer confidence in the month of December. The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index slumped to 128.1 in December after dipping to a revised 136.4 in November. Street had expected the consumer confidence index to edge down to 134.0 from the 135.7 originally reported for the previous month.

Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 260.37 points or 1.14 percent to 23138.82, Nasdaq gained 25.14 points or 0.38 percent to 6579.49 and S&P 500 was up by 21.13 points or 0.86 percent to 2488.83.

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