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US markets settle higher on Thursday

The US markets ended Thursday's choppy trading session higher as investors continued to analyze the flow of corporate earnings and a series of conflicting economic reports, but sentiment was buoyed by strong market debuts from Pinterest Inc. and Zoom Video Communications Inc. Traders remained reluctant to make significant moves going into the long Easter weekend. Some support came in with the Commerce Department's report showing that retail sales rebounded by much more than expected in the month of March. The Commerce Department said retail sales soared by 1.6% in March after edging down by 0.2% in February. Street had expected retail sales to climb by 0.9%. Excluding a jump in sales by motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales still surged up by 1.2% in March following a revised 0.2% dip in February. Ex-auto sales had been expected to increase by 0.7% compared to the 0.4% drop originally reported for the previous month. The report said closely watched core retail sales, which exclude autos, gasoline, building materials and food services, also jumped by 1.0% in March after falling by 0.3% in February.

A separate report from the Labor Department showed initial jobless claims unexpectedly edged lower in the week ended April 13, falling to a nearly 50-year low. The report said initial jobless claims dipped to 192,000, a decrease of 5,000 from the previous week's revised level of 197,000. Street had expected jobless claims to rise to 205,000. With the unexpected decrease, initial jobless claims dropped to their lowest level since hitting 182,000 in September of 1969. Meanwhile, traders were also looking ahead to the slew of quarterly earnings news scheduled to be released next week as earnings season continues to pick up steam.

Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 110.00 points or 0.42 percent to 26559.54, Nasdaq inched up 1.98 points or 0.02% percent to 7998.06 and S&P 500 was up by 4.58 points or 0.16 percent to 2905.03.

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