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Stocks edge higher as jobless claims drop

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By Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Encouraging news on the labor market and efforts to get more Democrats to support the compromise on extending tax cuts have stocks edging higher in early trading Thursday.

Before the market opened, the Labor Department reported that first time claims for unemployment benefits dropped last week to the second-lowest level this year. Claims fell to 421,000, below the 428,000 figure that Wall Street expected.

The four-week average of claims also slid for the fifth straight week, reaching the lowest level since August 2008, before the darkest days of the financial crisis.

The Dow Jones industrial average is up 13 points, or 0.1, to 11,385. The broader S&P 500 index is up 4, or 0.4, to 1,232. The Nasdaq composite index is up 10, or 0.4, to 2,619.

Treasurys are inching up after suffering two days of steep losses, causing their yields to drop. The yield on the 10-year note slipped to 3.22 percent. The yield, which help set rates for a wide variety of loans, reached as high as 3.33 percent Wednesday, the highest level in nearly six months.


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