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."