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Overnight Markets: US stocks gain as jobless claims decline

Overnight Markets: US stocks gain as jobless claims decline

Wall Street surged on Thursday, with the Dow Jones and S&P 500 ending at record highs, as a decline in jobless claims fuelled optimism in the economy and retail shares rallied.

The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 122 points, or 0.75%, to end at 16,480, a record closing high. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained nine points, or 0.47%, to finish at 1,842, also a record closing high. The Nasdaq Composite Index shot up 12 points, or 0.28%, to close at 4,167.

Stocks gained amid a positive sign for economic growth after initial jobless claims declined 42,000 in the latest week, dropping to 338,000 - the lowest level in nearly a month.

Retail shares remained in the focus as the holiday shopping season drew to a close. According to data published by MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, sales between 1 November and 24 December increased 2.3%, bucking concerns that the season had been weak.

Meanwhile, data showed jobless claims declined by 42,000 to 338,000 in the week ended 21 December, a Labour Department report showed in Washington.

Urban Outfitters (URBN.O) rose 2.2% and was one of the S&P 500's biggest percentage gainers. Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) gained 1.3%. Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N), a Dow component, added 0.5%.

Energy shares also climbed. Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) shot up 1.7% that helped boost the Dow. Chevron Corp (CVX.N), another Dow component, gained 1.1%.

Target Corp (TGT.N) increased 1.3%, though it remained down 1.7% from its close on 18 December.

In the telecom sector, Japan's SoftBank Corp (9984.T) was in discussions to acquire T-Mobile US Inc (TMUS.N). Shares of T-Mobile US traded at their highest levels since 2007, gaining 2.3%.

Tesla Inc. gained 2.7% on a report that the electric car maker will focus on opening more showrooms in China next year. Twitter Inc. jumped 4.8%, increasing for a fifth straight day. EBay Inc. fell 2% as data showed a slowdown in sales.

In Asia, shares oscillated between gains and losses on Friday in afternoon session after US jobless claims declined more than forecast.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.2% to 140 as of 1:14 p.m. in Tokyo. Japan’s Topix index added 0.4% after closing at the highest level since August 2008 yesterday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 0.4% even as the yen reached 105 per dollar for the first time in five years.

South Korea’s Kospi index added 0.2%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.1% and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index was little changed as the markets reopened from holidays. Singapore’s Straits Times Index rose 0.5%, and Taiwan’s Taiex Index gained 0.5%.

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