The number of first-time claims for unemployment insurance dropped by 24,000 last week, the Employment and Training Administration says. At 334,000, the number is at a 10-week low.
The Associated Press reports that the drop may be due to seasonal factors. The wire service adds:
"Still, the broader trend has been favorable. The four-week average, which smooths out fluctuations, fell 5,250 to 346,000.
"'We believe labor market conditions remain on a gradually improving trajectory,' said Laura Rosner, an economist at BNP Paribas."
The Wall Street Journal says the news — plus good news on some quarterly earning reports — sent the stock markets soaring:
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 108 points, or 0.7%, to 15579 in late-morning trade. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index tacked on 11 points, or 0.7%, to 1692. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 13 points, or 0.4%, to 3623. The Dow industrials and S&P 500 hit fresh intraday record highs."